Options For The Bruins If Torey Krug Doesn’t Re-Sign

Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Bruins are going to have a biiiiig decision this offseason when dealing with upcoming UFA Torey Krug. Now that there’s a flat cap for the next couple years, Don Sweeney and co will have their work cut out for them. Personally, I think the Bs need to resign Krug, his departure would leave a big hole at the left side and on the powerplay. But what if, for whatever reason, Torey Krug and the Bruins don’t find common ground and he walks? I’ll go through a couple options that the Bruins can do. 

Cap Projections

The Bruins are projected to have a tad under $18 million in cap space. They have options on what kind of contracts to give to guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelcyk; they may choose to save cap now and sign their younger players to bridge-like deals or choose to give out longer deals. With a Krug contract likely taking up around  $6.5-7 million in cap per season, the Bruins would have around $11 million to work with to sign Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork, Jake Debrusk and Joakim Nordstrom (who is likely gone). It will be a hard task regardless of what Sweeney decides to do. 

Option 1: Fix the problem internally

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If Krug says goodbye to Boston, there will certainly be a missing presence at defense. But one thing’s for sure, the Bruins have a plethora of guys in Providence and Boston ready to fill the void. One player that would have a far bigger role with Krug’s departure would be Matt Grzelcyk. He would likely take over powerplay duties and with the success he’s had when featured on the 1st PP unit, I don’t think the Bruins will be too upset. 

Chara will likely be around again next year, leaving one more spot on the left side. The contenders for that spot would be: Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore and Jeremy Lauzon, with the latter two able to play the right side as well. Zboril is an interesting case. In most other organizations, he’d likely be an everyday NHLer right now,  but with the Bruins depth at the back end, he’s spent most of his professional career in Providence. He’s eligible to be claimed on waivers starting next year, so it’s a sink or swim situation for the Czechman. 

(Photo Credit: Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

Urho Vaakanainen is still just 21-years-old and has loads of potential. He’d certainly be up to the task of becoming an everyday dman but if it doesn’t seem like he’s ready, the Bs can still send him to Providence to eat a ton of icetime up. Jeremy Lauzon has been really good since getting called up to Boston. The big, physical defenseman has played both sides and has been a solid presence to have on the bottom pair. I can’t see him not retaining some sort of role on the blue line next year. And finally John Moore, who has always been a good bottom pairing guy for the Bs. With the low cap, Moore’s days in Boston may be numbered, but if he stays a Bruin, he’ll be a solid, mobile dman for them. 

If the Bruins decide to go in house with their team next year, that would allow them to sign guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to longer term deals rather than bridge deals. Instead of giving them contracts around 2×4.5 and 2×2.5 respectively, they could look to go for deals around 6×6 and 5×4 to set up the team in a better long term position. 

Option 2: Fix the defense internally, use the money to acquire another forward. 

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Instead of the money being allocated to longer deals for Gryz and Debrusk, the Bruins could use the hypothetical $7 million from Krug and go out and sign a big time forward. There’s a solid crop of UFAs to hit the open market that would look great wearing the spoked-B. I’m not too sure the Bruins have the real estate to pull off a big signing like Taylor Hall, but there are plenty of B+ players the Bruins could go after. 

There are a couple of forwards (who can play both wings) coming out of Florida who would fit very well to the side of David Krejci. Those two names being Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Hoffman has spent his entire career in the Atlantic division and hasn’t scored under 22 goals and 56 points since the 2014-15 season (where he had 27 goals and 48 points). He’s a creative player a lot of skill and a great release. With a playmaker like Krejci and speedy winger like Jake Debrusk, it would be hard to think of him not putting up 30 goals and 60 points. 

Dadonov is another skilled winger and is coming off of a big 70 point season. He’s been a great possession player since returning to the NHL, averaging a 52.5 Corsi% in three seasons. Something that may get overlooked are the players Dadonov had success with in Florida. He’s used to a center that likes to slow the game down (Alexsander Barkov) and playing with a similar player in Krejci could prove to be beneficial for both players.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 28: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save on Los Angeles Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings on October 28, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Kings defeated the Bruins 2-1 (OT). (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And then there’s a player who’s been linked to Boston for years, Tyler Toffoli. He’s always been a player who can play anywhere in the top nine, and always performs in the playoffs. After watching him succeed in Vancouver this year, there’s clearly not an issue of fitting a new system. I’d think Toffoli would be a bit cheaper than the previous two options, and money is everything these days.

Guys like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Derick Brassard are some others the Bruins could choose to buy low on. Granlund had many great seasons in Minnesota but hasn’t looked the same in Nashville. Haula erupted in Vegas but hasn’t been quite as good after his gruesome injury last year. Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world and I would be really interested how he’d fare in a system like the Bruins, with leaders like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Brassard could slot in a lot of places and with his playoff track record, could be really solid. To end this off, just take a look at this hypothetical disguuuusting lineup.

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Debrusk – Krejci – Hoffman/Dadonov/Toffoli

Bjork – Coyle – Kase

Ritchie – Kuraly – Wagner

Option 3: Sign a replacement defenseman

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The market for defensemen isn’t flowing with crazy talent, but there are a lot of solid pieces in free agency. If the Bs can’t sign Krug, they likely wouldn’t be able to go after Tyson Barrie either. He’d probably have a cap hit a bit under Krug’s, but with how good the Bruin’s right side is, wouldn’t make much sense regardless of his cap hit. But there are two targets that would likely come in at a decent cap number if they hit the open market.

Those two are a pair of Calgary Flames dmen by the names of Erik Gustafsson and T.J. Brodie.  Gustafsson had an excellent 2018 campaign. He broke out with a 60 point season and actually had more even strength assists than Krug. After a down season this year, it would certainly be more of a gamble but I can’t see his cap hit getting too high. A one-two year deal around $4 million could be a good, prove it contract for both sides. 

T.J. Brodie has had a couple really solid years in a row. He’s averaged over 30 points, a +20 rating and right around a 54.2% Corsi, despite not having a big role in the Flames powerplay. He’s more reliable than Gustafsson and if Grzelcyk or McAvoy can take over powerplay duties from Krug, the Bs would still have a great defensive core. 

Obviously trades can also happen. If the Bruins sign a forward, they could trade one of their middle-six guys, maybe for a defenseman, maybe for a draft pick, who knows. But at the end of the day, Krug or no Krug, the Bruins will still be a competitive team next year. I just hope he’s a part of their success. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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What The Bruins Defensive Pairs Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Bruins have arguably the deepest defensive core in the entire league, and that can never be a bad thing. It’s going to be very intriguing to see how each defenseman comes back from all the time off and will be very telling on who gets the nod when playoffs begin. I just recently gave my opinion on the Bruins forward group, and here are my thoughts on the defense.

1st Pairing: Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy

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

Starting out with a bit of a surprise, I really think the Bruins should keep the former Boston University pairing together. I talked a bit about it in my last article about how important speed is going to be in the upcoming playoffs, and here is exhibit A. Taking nothing away from the future first-ballot Hall of Famer that is Zdeno Chara, but he doesn’t have the legs he used to and I’m not sure how the time off will affect his game. Matt Grzelcyk should get a bulk of shifts with Charlie McAvoy.

He’s undersized, not very physical, and doesn’t put up crazy offensive numbers, but Matt Grzelyck may be the most underrated defensemen in the league. His importance to the Bruins is wildly understated, he just does everything right. The mobile defenseman always makes a good first pass and is excellent at the transition game.

The Charlestown native is an analytical darling. Among NHL defensemen with 40+ games, Gryz ranks third in even-strength goals per 60 minutes. He has a very solid 52.8 Corsi and 54.6 Fenwick. And did all of Grzelyck’s success halt in the playoffs? Nope. In last year’s playoff run, the 26-year-old totaled four goals and eight points. Despite being put in tough positions and starting in the Bruins’ end 53.4% of the time, Grzelyck still managed to post a 54.4 Corsi. It’s going to suck seeing him in Seattle…

Boston media was all over Charlie McAvoy at the beginning of the season. Pekka Rinne (yes the goalie) scored a goal before Chucky Mac did, but he was still playing good hockey. He’s constantly paired against his opponent’s top lines and has proven time and time again that he can take any task he’s assigned. McAvoy came to Boston as a teenager and averaged 26 MINUTES a game in the playoffs without a lick of NHL experience. He’s done a remarkable job against the likes of Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, and Nikita Kucherov in the playoffs and deserves to eat up as many minutes as Bruce Cassidy gives him.

2nd Pairing: Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Yin and Yang. The pairing just works. On the left, you have one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in the league. On the right, you have a 6’5 defensive specialist who’s grown into an incredibly reliable player on the back end for the Bruins. 

When I think of playoff Torey Krug I think of two things. The first being his 2013 run where he was plucked out of Providence and lit it up for the Bruins. Watching him against the Rangers was special. He displayed a crazy amount of poise and skill, scoring FOUR goals in five games. The subtle things are what stood out. Getting into open space, a little footwork before scoring are just a few examples. The second thing is this.

Brandon Carlo is a defenseman every team wishes they had. He reminds me of Niklas Hjalmarsson. He’s not a player that will light up the scoresheet (although his offensive output has been far more impressive as of late) but he’s so hard to beat one on one, he blocks everything that comes his way and is the type of guy you need to win a cup (see Hjalmarsson’s three Stanley Cups). The 2015 2nd rounder has become a great skater, and he’s finally using his size against opponents. And the craziest thing is he’s still just 23. 

3rd Pairing: Zdeno Chara – Jeremy Lauzon

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 31: Jeremy Lauzon #79 of the Boston Bruins waits for a face off during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils on December 31, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

I need to retcon a bit on having Grzelcyk on the first pairing. Maybe it’s a 30%-70% split, maybe it’s a 50%-50% split, but there are still circumstances where Chara needs to be with McAvoy because they are so effective in so many situations. In last year’s postseason, he had six times the amount of giveaways as takeaways and had a tough 46 Corsi, but he led the entire playoffs with a plus-11 rating and you can’t argue with the captain of a team that was a game (or a penalty call) away from winning the cup. He’s the ultimate competitor, not many people can break their jaw and play the next game. 

I had to deliberate a lot with the sixth man at the backend. Bruce Cassidy could go for experience and play John Moore (who I thought played very solid in the Cup), he could elect for someone to play on their strong side like Connor Clifton, or go with the “hot” hand (if you could call it that after all the time off) with Jeremy Lauzon, who I think should get the nod. 

Lauzon doesn’t have any playoff experience, but like we’ve seen with some of the aforementioned players, that may not be an issue. The French-Canadian has a whole lot of grit to his game, he already has two fights under his belt, one against the tough bastard that is Matthew Tkachuk, which is something you love to see from a young player. His style of play should mesh perfectly with the pace of typical playoff hockey.

Having John Moore, Connor Clifton, and even Steven Kampfer are huge luxuries to have and will all be big assets if Lauzon (or any others) look out of place. And of course, Tuukka Rask will be the starter, don’t need anyone to say otherwise.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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The Bruins’ Compliance Buyout Options

( Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi | Getty Images )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Discretionary economic activity has effectively been halted as governments and individuals attempt to contend with a post-pandemic planet. The impact on the NHL is no less severe than any other sports league, as they encounter reduced revenues from all angles including promotions, concessions, and subscriptions. Part of the issue is that the NHL’s hard salary cap is, in part, a function of how much money the league makes in revenues. Declining revenues may mean a flat or even decreasing cap. For relief in both absolute dollar terms as well as cap related issues arising from good faith dealings made under the auspicious of future cap lifts, compliance contract buyouts may be provided to the Bruins, as well as the other teams across the league.

Compliance buyouts have most recently been utilized in 2013, following a labor dispute between the NHL and NHLPA. One of the provisions of the newest CBA was a year-over-year flat salary cap and in order to placate management teams, who argued that the former cap and projections therefrom impacted their decision making, each franchise was awarded the opportunity to buy out two players with no cap penalty during the off-season of either 2013 or 2014. While the Bruins declined to use either of their buyouts, albatross contracts across the league were wiped off of several teams cap spreadsheets. If compliance buyouts are awarded to help the league franchises cope with a flat cap, the Bruins may consider a move more seriously this time around, due to the roster decisions that will have to be made.

The Bruins are a team in transition, readying for a shift from the stalwarts collected and honed in the mid-oughts that dragged the franchise to repeated success all the way to the third decade of the 21st century. The Chicago Blackhawks have written the book on the tenuous maintenance of a championship-caliber team in the salary cap world and their modus operandi was the ruthless gutting of the supporting cast in order to preserve a pricey core. While the B’s have some of the most team-friendly deals in the league (warning: paywall), if they want to keep the majority of the band together, someone has got to go.

Barring any sort of trade, the likelihood of which could be reduced by the presence of the compliance buyout option, an amnesty buyout would make for a quick fix to the Bruins’ cap crunch. The deciding factor on who would be ousted would most likely be based on age, on-ice impact and contract.  While many B’s fans would love to see Tuukka Rask bought out, re-signed and bought out again, below are three of the most likely buyout candidates on the B’s roster.

John Moore

( Photo Credit: USA Today )

John Moore has, by all accounts, been a commensurate professional and decent fifth to sixth defenseman on the B’s roster. Originally signed to provide speed, first-pass capability in transition and defensive depth to a group that had been ravaged by injuries in the preceding two playoff appearances, Moore has found himself the odd-man-out on most nights with the Bruins’ roster healthy. In spite of his apparent skating ability, he has shown a lack of defensive awareness and attention to detail, at times.

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In the goal above, we can see the Tampa Bay attacker find the puck after an errant shot in the Bruins’ D-zone. After Patrice Bergeron pressures him to the outside, he finds open space behind the red-line and Bergeron releases him to Torey Krug. Krug attempts to strip the puck and as he fails, Moore vacates the front of the crease, his abandons his check and leaves his net-minder alone. The puck is dished to an open Lightning forward who makes no mistake about elevating the puck past Rask. It was by no means a defensive clinic by any Bruin on the ice, but it is the glaring mistake by Moore that led to this tally against and sealed the fate of the Bruins in the game, an eventual five-to-three loss to a division opponent. Further, the term and value of the contract make Moore the most likely pick.

After this season, Moore has three years of his contract remaining with $7.3 million due to him over that time. The total cost of the buyout would be $4.8 million (two-thirds of the remaining value) and would be spread out over twice the amount of time remaining. What the Bruins would be looking for is that $2.8 million of cap space, which is (give-or-take) one Anders Bjork and one Matt Grzelcyk when figuring their raises. The term of the deal also limits their Bruins’ ability to market the contract in some ways as well as reducing the flexibility of future negotiations with Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy down the line.

Connor Clifton

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Oh, how we barely knew ye. After impressing during his 19 game call-up last season as well as his playoff contributions which nearly doubled his time with varsity, Clifton has seen a slight step backward in his development. While not quite long in the tooth, the 24-year-old defenseman is simply running out of time to prove that he can handle an NHL workload as a sixth defenseman or spare component on the right side of the rink with regularity.

His offensive recklessness is not always accompanied by an enthusiastic back-check to regain positioning in the way Krug will demonstrate and the lack of will always be a hindrance against the bigger forwards in the league, especially if he is to be paired with Grzelcyk. In spite of the potential cost saving signing, there simply may not be room for him on the back-end and the fiscal impact of the maneuver would be a paltry $900k.

The depth chart favors the Bruins’ defense, there is no question there. Management has recently taken steps to strengthen that position further when they elected to sign Jack Ahcan and Nick Wolf to bolster a group that includes several unsigned prospects and a plethora of RFA’s that will be re-signed. This indicates that the team is planning on graduating at least one of Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakenainen or Jakub Zboril to full-time duty or trading away a current roster piece and/or one of the above-mentioned skaters. If the Bruins are comfortable moving on from a regular, why wouldn’t it be Clifton whose ceiling may be lower than younger prospects in the wings? Remember that Cassidy opted for an injured Moore in the last game of the 2019 playoffs; that does count for something.

David Krejci

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

After Tuukka Rask, there may be no other player on this team that receives more unjustified hate than the Bruins’ faithful Czech center-man.  A slick and quiet playmaker, Krejci doesn’t have Brad Marchand’s nastiness, David Pastrnak’s extroverted charisma or Charlie Coyle’s native heritage that resonates immediately with many fans. He is expected to dazzle on a nightly basis, in part because of his past performances and in part because he has the highest hit against the cap on the entire team. While he may end up a Bruin for life, the upward pressure from prospects is not only leading to job insecurity in the D-corps.

Don Sweeney and Co. have made it a point to acquire players that have the ability to play either center or wing. One player that has a chance to crack the B’s roster at his natural position is Jack Studnicka, the Bruins best and most prized prospect. His emergence is imminent. The skill he has displayed in the AHL as a 20-year-old is amazing, especially considering how he has taken a stranglehold of the top center position and plays in all situations for an Atlantic Division-leading Baby B’s squad. He ranks 13th overall in points league-wide and sits third on the leader-board for rookies. The combination of skill and cost may be what shakes Krejci off of his roster spot.

If the Bruins begin to pass the torch in a big way, they will consider trading the last year of David Krejci’s services. If no deal can be made then a buyout would be another option. While an unlikely way for management to end what has largely been an amicable relationship, cap space is cap space and if the B’s organization determines that Krejci’s on the outs, the cold-hearted move provides the ability to jettison the veteran forward. Krejci’s buyout cost, in terms of dollars, would be $4.7 million over two years, creating a potential cash flow issue that the Moore contract would not in spite of similar overall dollar cost.

Of each buyout option for the Bruins, John Moore’s contract seems to be the highest at-risk if amnesty was offered to management teams. It is also possible that one, or all of the players could be moved in the off-season in order to provide the GM flexibility to assemble a winning group. Regardless of the route the organization chooses to take, the Bruins would be wise to utilize whatever cap saving opportunities may arise as a gift from the NHL in order to preserve their winning core today and provide flexibility to reward their next wave of stars.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 175 that we recorded below on 4-19-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins’ Connor Clifton Assigned to Providence for LTI Conditioning Stint

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

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Connor Clifton, a right-shot defenseman for the Boston Bruins was assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, for the purposes of a conditioning stint on February 16, 2020. Clifton has been out of the line-up since he exited a December 29, 2019 game against the Buffalo Sabres and was subsequently placed on the injured reserve list on January 3, 2020. Clifton resumed full-contact practice with the varsity squad on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. The trip to Providence most likely represents an opportunity for Clifton to shake off the rust and also allows the Bruins salary cap and roster flexibility, as they are currently at the maximum number of skaters allowed.

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During this season, Clifton has mostly found himself on the bottom pair of the B’s D-corps with Matt Grzelcyk and serving as an occasional healthy scratch. While participating in 30 games he has accumulated two goals, 12 PIMS, 32 blocked shots, and 85 hits in 14:07 of average ice time per game (95.6% of which was spent five-on-five). He has been known to play the game with an air of recklessness which gave rise to the concept of “Cliffy Hockey.”  Compounded by his lack of production, Clifton’s possession metrics do not shine brightly.

Clifton has been attributed a Relative Fenwick-For Percentage (a measure of unblocked shots for and unblocked shots against) of -3.9, placing him at the bottom of the B’s defensive heap and implying that when he’s on the ice Tuukka Rask or Jaroslav Halak are more likely to see pucks headed their way than with any other D-man on the ice. His penchant for getting attempted shots through to opposing nets also ranks the worst among regular defense-men with a 38.5% shots through percentage.

Connor Clifton broke into the League during the 2018-2019 and featured in 19 of the Bruin’s regular-season games as well as 18 of their post-season games en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. While he registered a lone assist during the regular season, Clifton’s offensive contributions spiked a bit in the playoffs as he put up five points, including his first career NHL goal during the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

While Clifton may have been surpassed on the depth chart by young buck Jeremey Lauzon and ranks worse across the board against sixth/seventh options like John Moore, his handedness and aggressive style still make him an attractive alternative for Bruce Cassidy to send on to the ice, in spite of his unwillingness to play Clifton on special teams. Boston’s defensive depth has been tested in the recent past so it’s doubtful that the men behind the bench and management are complaining about the decisions that must be made to accommodate the plethora of blue-liners vying for ice time. Clifton, meanwhile, hopes to fight his way back into a roster spot and add to the internal competition which should help keep the B’s back-end sharp.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Tampa Bay: 12/12/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

Home: Tampa Bay Lightning (15-11-3)

Away: Boston Bruins (20-6-6)

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Palat-Point-Kucherov

Killorn-Cirelli-Stamkos

Maroon-Paquette-Gourde

Verhaeghe-Stephens-Joseph

Defense

Hedman-Rutta

McDonagh-Cernak

Sergachev-Shattenkirk

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

McElhinney

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Ritchie

Bjork-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

First Period

Just seconds into the game, Zdeno Chara dropped the gloves with Pat Maroon to attempt to get the B’s going and try to take an early lead. The Bruins did just that as Patrice Bergeron stuffed home a rebound just under four minutes into the game.

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The Bruins did a great job keeping possession in the offensive zone as they looked to extend their lead. Tuukka Rask did a solid job keeping the Lightning at bay although the defense did an equally solid job limiting the scoring opportunities. With 7:16 left in the period, John Moore took a tripping penalty as Tampa Bay looked to even the score. Boston killed off the man advantage as Rask made a number of key stops. Both teams continued to be quite physical as the period drew to a close.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go to their first power play early in the second period as they looked to extend their lead. The Lightning killed off the penalty as the B’s failed to get any solid scoring chances. Penalties to Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Shattenkirk resulted in a four on four with 15 minutes left in the period. Boston continued to get pucks to the net but Andrei Vasilevskiy continued to come up with timely saves. The Bruins continued to be physical with the Lightning in the middle period as they tried to hunker down defensively.

Moore took another tripping penalty with seven minutes left in the second period as Tampa Bay got a golden opportunity to tie the game. Just five seconds into the man advantage, Steven Stamkos ripped a shot past Rask to tie it.

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Tampa Bay had a huge surge after the goal as they stormed the Boston end looking for another goal but Rask continued to have a strong game which kept it tied.

Score: Tied 1-1

Third Period

The Bruins were forced to kill a penalty early in the final period as Sean Kuraly was called for hooking and the Lightning got a great chance to take the lead. Brayden Point gave Tampa Bay the lead on the man advantage with a quick release from the low slot that beat Rask and the B’s defense.

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The Bruins started to get some good attacking zone rhythm toward the midway point of the period as they looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins would get an opportunity to draw even as they picked up a power play with 9:32 remaining. The Lightning killed off the penalty as the Bruins again failed to do much of anything on the man advantage. Stamkos buried his second of the game after a turnover in the Bruins defensive zone with under five minutes to go, giving Tampa Bay a two goal lead.

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The Bruins cut the lead in half about two minutes later as Moore buried a loose puck in front of the net.

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Rask would head to the Boston bench with two minutes to go as the B’s tried desperately to tie the game and force overtime. The Bruins wouldn’t get many great looks at the net as their losing streak reached five games.

Final Score: 3-2 Lightning

Three Stars

First: Stamkos

Second: Vasilevskiy

Third: Rask

Breaking: Bruins Place Steven Kampfer on Waivers

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game One

( Photo Credit: CBS Boston )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins announced today that the club has placed defenseman Steven Kampfer on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.

Kampfer has played in four games this season for the Bruins posting no points. The 31-year-old Ann Arbor, Michigan native and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins re-signed Kampfer this past offseason to a two-year deal worth $800,000 per season.

The news comes after the Bruins are gaining some defenseman back into their lineup as John Moore played his second game of the year after returning from offseason shoulder surgery which scratched Connor Clifton and Kampfer.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 156 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Game 29 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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

The Boston Bruins are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League during this eight-game winning streak, putting them in the second-overall position in the league standings, only two points behind the Washington Capitals with a 20-3-5 record and two games in hand on the Caps. Boston is 9-0-1 in their last ten games and have still not lost in regulation on home ice.

After being one of the most dominate teams of the 2010s, the Chicago Blackhawks are now one of the bottom teams in the NHL with a sub-.500 record of 10-12-5, good for 27th in the league standings. Chicago has lost each of their last three games and are 4-5-1 in their last ten contests. The Blackhawks most-recently lost 4-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday in Chicago.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 13-2-2 2.04 GAA .933 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 3-1 win vs MTL

CHI: Robin Lehner (Not Confirmed) 5-5-3 2.69 GAA .929 SV% Last Game: 9 Saves in 7-3 loss vs COL

Who’s Hot:

Tuukka Rask is getting the starting job tonight against the Blackhawks and in the process, he will be putting his six-game winning streak and seven-game point streak as starting goaltender on the line. Rask has been one of the top goalies once again this season, sitting near the top of the league in nearly every category. Out of goaltenders with a minimum of 15 games played, Rask is third in save-percentage (.933%) and second in goals-against-average (2.04) with two shutouts (tied for 2nd).

Even though he was kept off of the scoring sheet for the first time in a remarkable 15 games, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is on fire this season, putting up 14-19-33 numbers in 27 games. Before the loss to the Blues, Kane scored 11 goals and 13 assists over the course of 15-consecutive games. Kane has 8-8-16 totals in 18 career regular-season games against the Bruins.

David Krejci has really come into his own with the absence of Patrice Bergeron in the Bruins lineup as he has been on the scoresheet in each of the last three games, including the insurance goal in the third-period that secured the Bruins a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Krejci has 6-15-21 totals in 22 games in ’19/’20 and will look to keep up that momentum against the Hawks.

Who’s Not:

Once known as one of the league’s best two-way forwards, Jonathon Toews has not had the best campaign so far into December, scoring only four goals and ten assists for 14 points in 27 games. Toews has only two points in his last five games and has been a minus rating in the last three. Toews has been averaging around 17-18 minutes per game on the ice and the Hawks need to see more production from the 31-year-old.

As of 11:00am EST, we do not know the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, but either option – Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner, are not having good seasons and have struggled to start the campaign. Crawford got the start against the Blues and proceeded to allow four goals on 30 shots against, bringing his season record to 5-7-2 with a GAA of 3.04 and a save-percentage of .909. Lehner’s last game resulted in him getting pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots in 25 minutes against the Avalanche, leading to a 7-3 loss.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Charlie Coyle is one goal away (99) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Jake DeBrusk is three points away (97) from 100 career NHL points
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (55) from tying Cam Neely (56) for 5th-most game-winning goals in Bruins history

Chicago Blackhawks:

  • G Corey Crawford is one win away (249) from 250 career NHL wins*
  • D Duncan Keith is one goal away (99) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Zack Smith is two points away (198) from 200 career NHL points
  • D Erik Gustafsson is one point away (99) from 100 career NHL points

*Only applicable if he gets the start in goal.

Bruins vs Blackhawks Outlook:

Two of the most historic franchises in NHL history get ready to lace up the skates against one another for the 591st time in the regular-season. Due to the reality that they are in opposing conferences, the Bruins and Blackhawks only play twice per season. Last year, the Bruins won both meetings including the 4-2 win in the 2019 Winter Classic. Brad Marchand scored two goals and three assists for five points in the two games last season against Chicago.

This year, the Bruins remain one of the best teams but not just in the standings. Boston has the second-best power-play in the NHL with a 30.9% success rate, trailing only the Edmonton Oilers (31%). At home, the Bruins have an even better power-play percentage at 32.7% and have scored 25 goals on the man-advantage – 3rd in the league. On the opposite scale, the Blackhawks have the 19th-best penalty-kill at 79.8% and the tenth-best PK on the road at 82.8%.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Chicago has the fifth-worst power-play in the league, scoring only 11 goals on 82 chances for a 13.4% success rate. Boston’s penalty-kill is the seventh-best in the entire NHL, killing off just under 85% of the penalties against. The B’s special teams have been a big reason to their dominate record as we begin the final calendar month of 2019.

Bruins Lineup News:

Defenceman John Moore is going to make his season debut for the Bruins tonight while Connor Clifton gets the scratch. Moore is likely going to play alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the defensive core. Moore underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season and after a brief conditioning stint in the American Hockey League, he plays in his first game tonight. Don’t expect any additional lineup changes, although, things could of course chance by puck drop.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 156 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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The Bruins Have A Logjam On Defense

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(Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/AP)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

In the 2016-17 playoffs versus Ottawa, the Bruins were forced to use both rookies like Charlie McAvoy and career 8-9 defenseman like Joe Morrow in games because their defense had been decimated by injuries. The next year it was guys like Matt Grzelcyk and Nick Holden in the lineup vs Toronto and Tampa. I can only assume that as the Bruins were being eliminated in Game 5 of their series against the Bolts, GM Don Sweeney was vowing never again to have a depth problem in the playoffs.

That summer he signed left-handed defenseman John Moore to a five-year deal. During camp, he dealt blue-liner Adam McQuaid to the Rangers but acquired the less expensive former Bruin, Steve Kampfer, in the deal along with a draft pick. That gave them proven NHL players in: Chara, McAvoy, Krug, Carlo, Moore, Miller, Kampfer. They also had Matt Grzelcyk, who had played well in 2017-18 as a rookie, not to mention promising youngsters like Vaakaneinen, Lauzon, Zboril. At the time, I remember the B’s faithful asking where all these defensemen were going to play. Apparently, Sweeney knew what he was doing?

In 2018-19, because of injuries, Boston ended up using 12 different defensemen over the course of the regular season and playoffs. All of the guys I mentioned above, plus a pleasant surprise in the form of free-agent signee Connor Clifton. A 5th round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2013, Clifton was unable to come to a contract agreement with them after four years at Quinnipiac University. He ended up signing an AHL deal with Providence and performed well enough in 2017-18 to earn himself a two-year NHL deal. He ended up filling in admirably during the regular season after the usual myriad of injuries, playing 19 games. He played another 18 games in the playoffs as Boston went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Before the 2019-20 season would even begin, the Bruins depth on defense would again be tested. John Moore needed offseason surgery after he played through an injured shoulder in the playoffs last year. Kevan Miller, who ended last season on the injured reserve, would start there to begin the season. Neither Moore nor Miller has played a single game for the Bruins this year, but it appears that both are finally getting healthy, and could push for playing time within the next few weeks (Moore is closer). On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing for the Bruins, but it will force Don Sweeney and his staff to make some decisions.

The first hurdle for Sweeney was that he and head coach Bruce Cassidy would have to decide what to do with Connor Clifton, who has been quickly approaching the point where he would no longer be waiver exempt. The obvious advantage to Clifton maintaining his exempt status is that he could be sent down to Providence without another team being able to claim him when he went through the waiver process. It was something that the B’s front office must have been thinking about long and hard because Clifton sat out two of the last five games in favor of Steven Kampfer before Sunday. Apparently, the staff came to some sort of conclusion, because Clifton played his 60th NHL game against Montreal, which will mark the end of his “exempt” status.

Most people who follow the team thing it’s a foregone conclusion that Clifton would not make it through waivers if the Bruins attempted to send him down at this point. Sweeney is not going to just give an asset like Clifton away, so the logical assumption is that he is here to stay with the big club.

Other relevant news that was announced Sunday was that John Moore had been loaned to Providence of the AHL for the purpose of a “conditioning stint”. Moore played that afternoon in Providence’s 4-0 win over the Charlotte Checkers, where he recorded an assist and was a “plus” two for the game.

Moore has since been recalled and placed back on LTIR, but the Bruins have said he may be ready to play Thursday. The maximum amount of active players allowed on an NHL roster at any one time is 23. With David Backes being activated off the IR for the game against Montreal, and Gaunce sent down, the Bruins are at 22 right now. With Clifton’s waiver status changed, Moore supposedly ready to play Thursday and Kevan Miller getting closer to full health, something is going to have to give. The Bruins can add Moore to the roster and I believe they will be ok as long as Miller is still on the LTIR.

In the short-term, I would not be surprised to see the Bruins waive Kampfer. I think his ability to sit out for long periods and still play well when called upon is valuable, but I believe he would pass through waivers unclaimed (unlike Clifton). The problem is even if the B’s carry 8 D/13 F, when/if Miller returns someone is going to have to get moved.

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(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

It would appear that the two most likely candidates for a trade would be Moore or Miller. The Bruins have won so far this season without them, so it makes sense one of them would go. The two guys are apples and oranges in my opinion. Miller is the more physical of the two, and that’s definitely something the team could use more of. On the flip side, Moore is a big body and a very good skater, but not overly physical. One advantage he has is that he is comfortable playing either side, whereas Miller is strictly a right side guy.

It’s going to be an extremely difficult decision for the front office, but one that has to be made because of the emergence of players like Grzelcyk and Clifton. It’s a good problem to have and one that 30 other NHL teams likely would not mind having.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

 

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Bruins’ Cassidy Provides Injury Updates On Krug, Miller, And Co.

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(Photo: Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy issued several injury updates during his media availability at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday afternoon. Most notably, Cassidy said Torey Krug, who was placed on injured reserve just under a week ago, is “probable” for Saturday’s tilt with the Minnesota Wild. The 28-year-old has not played since November 10, and has 2-11-13 totals through 17 games this season.

Cassidy also provided the following injury updates: Patrice Bergeron, who did not skate at practice, had a maintenance day, Par Lindholm was cut during Thursday’s game versus Buffalo and required stitches (he is not ruled out for Saturday), and Brett Ritchie, who is dealing with an ongoing issue, felt “much better.”

Additionally, the Bruins’ bench boss said defenseman Kevan Miller suffered a “little setback.” However, the team does not think it is anything too serious, but is remaining cautious with the 32-year-old. Miller has not played since April 4 after undergoing surgery for a fractured kneecap.

Cassidy noted that defenseman John Moore is back to being a full-participant at practices, shedding the red “no-contact” sweater, but is still a couple weeks away from making his season debut. The 29-year-old had shoulder surgery during the offseason.

After taking down the Sabres by a 3-2 final at TD Garden on Thursday night, the Bruins return to action tomorrow at home against the Minnesota Wild. Boston will look to make it three-straight wins after going 1-2-3 in the team’s previous six games before Tuesday’s win at New Jersey.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 154 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins’ Defensive Logjam

( Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Bruins have rarely had success in developing and building their defensive depth. Before 2010, the Bruins hadn’t selected a defenseman in the first round since Matt Lashoff in the 2005 draft, who only played 74 NHL games. For nearly 5 years, the Bruins’ highest priority was a left-handed puck-moving defenseman. The Bruins either didn’t select a D-man entirely or swung and missed on every blue-line draft pick. Their former General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, had a knack for trading picks and upcoming talent for NHL-ready players but had almost no success in drafting. To put it into perspective, the Bruins selected six times in the 2007 draft, four of which were D-men. The six picks appeared in 23 NHL games, three of those games coming from one of the four D-men. Peter and the Bruins alienated their draft boards almost entirely and focused on free-agent signings and trades.

During the 2011 season, the Bruins possessed some talent on the back-end. Captain Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, and Andrew Ference donned the black and gold. There was a hole on the left side on the second/third pairing. They had tried Matt Hunwick, Matt Lashoff, Mark Stuart, and Matt Bartkowski, all of whom weren’t making a lasting impression. At the trade deadline, Chiarelli set out to find the defenseman they had been desperately wanting. He traded away Mark Stuart and former 2004 top-five pick Blake Wheeler for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik to the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets).

Peverley was seen as a bottom-six role player and ended up being an integral part of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run. This created an even bigger hole on the blue-line, which many felt was a complimentary move for a bigger trade. Sure enough, Chiarelli traded for Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Joe Colborne (former first-round pick in 2008), a 2012 second-round pick and a conditional pick. The conditional pick turned into a first in 2011 if the Bruins went to the Stanley Cup, which came to fruition. It was a hefty price tag for one player, but at the deadline, teams are desperate and prices run high. At the time of the trade, Kaberle was a 12-year veteran with 520 points and a plus 25 rating. These two deadline moves, along with the Horton and Campbell trade, launched the Bruins into a strong playoff contender and yielded them their sixth Stanley Cup in history.

Since 2011, the Bruins have had more success drafting defensemen in large part to high draft picks (thank you, Toronto) and personnel moves. The Bruins brought in Keith Gretzky as Director of Amateur Scouting. Keith played a role in drafting players such as David Pastrnak, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Jakub Zboril, Jake Debrusk, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, and Charlie McAvoy. It has taken years for the blue-line to finally take shape but after trades, free-agent signings, and better drafting, the Bruins finally have a good defenseman logjam problem.

Including two long-term injured reserve spots, the Bruins have nine NHL defensemen on the roster. The current six players have solidified their spots, so what happens when Kevan Miller and John Moore return from their injuries?

Miller came into the league from the University of Vermont as an undrafted free agent. He brings toughness, grit, and resiliency to the Bruins D-line. He’s currently playing out the last year of his four-year, $10 million deal, which many believe will be his last in a Bruins uniform. Miller fractured his knee cap in April of last season and has yet to return, however, Cassidy has reported he will be back to the Bruins soon.

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Miller’s been plagued with the injury bug his whole career. He has yet to play a full 82 game season. In 324 NHL games, Miller has 534 blocks and 712 hits. He is not afraid to put his body down for the team, but unfortunately, it has resulted in too many injuries. His recent kneecap injury allowed Connor Clifton to seize the opportunity to play in the bigs, and he ended up making a lasting impression on the third pairing. When Miller returns, the Bruins have a difficult choice to make. They could healthy scratch Steven Kampfer or Connor Clifton or reassign them to their affiliate in Providence. Clifton was waiver exempt before November 9th, but he has played in 15 games and therefore needs to clear waivers if the Bruins want to send him down. It would be no surprise if another team scooped him up on the waiver wire.

It would be an unfortunate move because Clifton has played well enough to continue his role as a bottom pairing D-man and recently signed a three-year, $3 million deal this past off-season. The Bruins could also look for a trade partner for Miller. Unfortunately, his current trade value is minimal with the recent injury; therefore he will need to showcase what he has left before General Manager, Don Sweeney, picks up the phone. If the Bruins do trade Miller, it could be for a middle-to-late-round pick to alleviate their cap situation and allow their young D-men more opportunity to make a name for themselves.

The other returning defenseman, John Moore, was signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2018 to a five-year, $13.75 million deal. Moore is a former first-round pick in the 2009 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He never found his groove in Columbus, nor New York, before moving on to New Jersey. He averaged 19:39 time-on-ice for the Devils and discovered some offensive ability, but still couldn’t post a positive plus/minus stat. Sweeney signed Moore for depth at the blue-line and spread his cap hit throughout the five years to avoid further cap mismanagement. The 6’2, 210-pound defender played in 61 games in the regular season for the Bruins and 10 games in the recent NHL playoffs. He made it through the Stanley Cup Final, before being ruled out with an impending shoulder surgery that would sideline him for four to six months. He has yet to return but is skating with a non-contact jersey which is a good sign for any player on the injured reserve.

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When Moore finally returns, his situation is a bit trickier. The Bruins could find a new home for Miller in the meantime, which would alleviate the pressure of trying to plug Moore back into the lineup. If Sweeney is unable to find a trade partner for Miller, the recent General Manager of the Year has a taller task. Moore’s contract is easy to trade because of the low cap and could also warrant a mid-round draft pick. But, like Miller, his trade value is quite low because of the recent injury.

The Bruins have to start thinking about next off-season, as they have a few key players on the last leg of their contracts, one of which is power-play quarterback, Torey Krug. Krug is playing the last year of his four-year, $21 million deal and is coming off two consecutive 50-point seasons. There’s word around the league that he should gain a significant raise and has been rumored to be gaining trade interest in the past two years. Sweeney has made it clear he wants to keep the 5’9 D-man in a Bruins uniform.

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Another likely – and more plausible – scenario has the Bruins keeping their D-men and waiting until the February trade deadline to strike a deal. History has shown deadline day prices can be high, so Miller or Moore could yield the Bruins an unexpected player or pick. Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril are all knocking on the Bruins’ roster door. All three have showcased some skill in the NHL over the past few seasons, but none have been able to solidify a roster spot yet in large part to the logjam at defense. The Bruins have a very good problem at defense with their plethora of NHL-ready names. They haven’t had this luxury in quite some time, but Sweeney will need to work his magic once again if he wants the right talent in the lineup and a positive cap balance in next year’s off-season.

Check out our new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode 6 that we recorded on November 17th, 2019! Our BNG Prospects Pod can be found on the same RSS Feed as our original Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast, which can be found on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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