Bruins Look to Kuraly & Kuhlman to KO Leafs

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Photo Credit: Brandon Magnus/Getty Images

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

In a playoff series that features an excess of star-power and offensive prowess, an appreciation for roster depth can often go by the wayside. The Boston Bruins, despite boasting arguably the best forward line in hockey, have proven to fall short of the Toronto Maple Leafs when considering world-class skill at the forward position. The collection of Marner, Matthews, and Tavares, when supplemented by several players that could slot in as top-6 forwards on most teams (Johnsson, Kapanen, Nylander, Marleau, Hyman), has outshined the forward units of the Black and Gold for the better part of the series.

The Bruins have been able to string together enough bounce-back wins to even the series at three games apiece, and have been lucky to do so, as they have struggled to find a lineup that provides them with their best matchup against a high-skilled Toronto squad. However, Game 6 on Sunday might have sparked some hope for the Boston faithful as the series concludes after Tuesday’s Game 7 in Boston.

For the vast majority of Sunday’s Game 6, the Bruins maintained almost complete control. They out-chanced the Leafs. They out-worked the Leafs. They killed penalties. They rallied for three unanswered goals after surrendering the game’s first tally. They created their own energy with their backs against the wall in a game on the road. To say the least (apart from the final 10 minutes of the game), Sunday’s effort was largely encouraging for the Bruins and their fans. It showcased the team’s most complete effort throughout the course of a 60-minute battle, and did so in the face of adversity and immense pressure.

Why?

Here’s a fun fact for hockey fans everywhere: The Boston Bruins have, in their entire history as an organization, never lost a playoff game in which both Sean Kuraly and Karson Kuhlman were in the lineup for Boston.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to why this is the case. Is it because their last names begin with ‘K’? Is it because they both come from the Midwest? Is it because they both bring a workman style approach to each game?

These are all fair questions. Quite simply, the Bruins have never lost when both players take the ice in the playoffs (1-0-0, 1.00 Win %) because of the completeness of their game, and the versatility that each player provides.

While Kuhlman and Kuraly play somewhat different styles and have suited up among mostly different linemates during the 2018-2019 campaign, they both possess the necessary speed to compete with Toronto’s forward units. Their ability to get behind Toronto’s defensemen on the forecheck is invaluable in a series that, for the first four or five games, featured a Toronto defensive unit that broke the puck out of their zone with relative ease. While David Backes and Chris Wagner (the two Bruins relegated to the press box in lieu of Kuhlman and Kuraly) play a somewhat physical game, their deficiencies as skaters proved to be too much for Bruce Cassidy to continue to put them on the ice.

Kuraly’s game is mostly devoted to North/South trajectories and an ability to lug the puck from zone to zone, and Kuhlman’s game can also feature similar attributes. In a “grind it out” style of game, Kuhlman can use his legs and grit to be effective and keep things simple. However, in a more skill and creativity-centric game, Kuhlman also possesses the necessary skill set to make plays, and pass the puck well. The combination of puck possession and play-making ability between Kuraly and Kuhlman prove to bring much more to the table than the one-dimensional styles of both Backes and Wagner.

The Bruins’ lineup is deeper throughout with both Kuhlman and Kuraly on the ice. Cassidy has shown that he trusts both players in the later minutes of games, when he has shortened his bench during crucial minutes. The Bruins, especially in a Game 7, cannot afford to suit up forwards who can’t be trusted in crucial minutes and high-pressured situations. Wagner and Backes’s minutes in the late stages of their most recent playoff games reveal just how little Cassidy can trust their play, at least in this particular series. Having more bodies that can be effective on Cassidy’s bench is paramount in the latter stages of playoff games, as they will be able to provide Cassidy’s top players with adequate rest, so that they can continue to play at their highest level when the Bruins need them most.

 

It’s been said before, but it’s worth restating: The Bruins have never lost a playoff game in which both Kuraly and Kuhlman have been in the lineup for Boston.

I’m no rocket scientist (yet), but I don’t need to be in order to know that I wouldn’t bet against that combination of K’s as they look to KO Toronto in Game 7.

Kuhlman and Kuraly? That’s deep.

Boston Bruins: Four Games, Two Wins, Three Lines

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Photo Credit: Frank Gunn/AP

By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

It doesn’t take a brilliant hockey mind to understand that the Bruins stole Game 4 from Toronto thanks to some big games from big names.

 

The Bruins, despite twice going up by two or more goals in the game, never seemed to have complete control, and their feeble attempt at staving off a Toronto comeback effort demonstrated how unstable their leads can be. Tuukka Rask allowed a bad goal, but he also played an outstanding hockey game. Game 4 was probably the strongest offensive effort the Leafs put together, pouring in four goals and matching their series high. Yet even as they were charging late having stolen every ounce of momentum, Rask was equal to the task (I hate that I just used that line), slamming the door on both the Leafs and Game 4.

The Bruins got solid games from their top defensive pairing and Brandon Carlo on the back end, with their top line and Charlie Coyle playing well up front. Outside of this group (and Rask) the Bruins played a “meh” hockey game. Maybe even “meh-minus.”

For the third time in four games, Toronto played a better hockey game than the Bruins. If not for the grace of Boston’s top dogs, the Bruins would be coming back to Boston down 3-1 with their backs secured firmly against the wall.

What’s encouraging about this scenario for Boston, is that they’ve essentially played four games (winning two of them), with just three lines. Butch Cassidy’s fourth forward unit of Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari, and Chris Wagner has been, to put it nicely, disappointing. While Nordstrom was able to score an empty netter with the game already decided last night, and even drew a critical penalty in the opening minutes of the game (which lead to a Charlie McAvoy BINGO), the unit as a whole put together another underwhelming game.

 

Kuraly, Please.

The string of playoff performances that this fourth line has compiled sheds a lot of light on just how valuable Sean Kuraly is to not just the fourth unit, but also the team as a whole. Sean Kuraly is the straw that stirs the fourth line drink. With Kuraly in the lineup, his speed makes the entire fourth unit faster and opens up the ice North/South. His ability to carry the puck with speed through the neutral zone drives offensive zone possession for Boston, something that is invaluable, especially coming from a fourth unit. Kuraly’s speed also allows him to be first on a lot of pucks that are dumped behind defensemen. While certainly this bodes well for Boston’s offense and scoring chances, it also (and almost more importantly) creates tougher minutes for Toronto’s defensemen. Forcing Toronto to play in their own end limits their energy and ability to bypass the Bruins’ forecheck with smooth and simple breakouts. Without Kuraly, the Black and Gold forecheck has been noticeably weaker (aside from Game 2). When examining the forechecking efforts of the fourth line specifically, they seem to lack the necessary speed to apply pressure in certain spots (Wagner, Acciari), and lack the necessary physicality to disrupt possession in others (Nordstrom). Kuraly will bring both physicality and speed to Toronto’s front door, and Game 2 showed just how important that is for the Bruins to succeed. To paraphrase the great Destiny’s Child, I don’t think they’re ready for this jelly.

 

Kuraly’s role might be as significant to this team’s success as any fourth liner that I can remember. His presence on the fourth line makes the entire lineup deeper, and it opens up chances for other lines because it forces opponents to play tougher minutes. Toronto has shown that it is incapable of playing 60 solid minutes when presented with physicality and aggressiveness.

Having #52 rejoin will not only signal Kuraly’s return to the lineup, but it also signals the return of the fourth line to the Bruin’s rotation. Having Kuraly back means that Bruce Cassidy will have another line he can trust to put on the ice regularly, which will save the legs of the Bruins top scorers and open up the game for them to play as they are capable of. We got a glimpse of how good they can be in the playoffs on Wednesday night in Game 4. Imagine how good they will be when Kuraly’s line eats up some of their tougher minutes.

Put your Kuraly caps on! (I’ll see myself out.)

Moving Forward

As far as what the fourth line will look like upon Kuraly’s return, I think it’s anyone’s guess. While the Wagner-Acciari-Kuraly line had a lot of success during the year, it will be interesting to see if Cassidy doesn’t leave Nordstrom in for either Acciari or Wagner. While Nordstrom did outplay both of them, Acciari and Wagner’s chemistry with Kuraly might prove to be too significant to ignore.

If it were up to me, the fourth unit would feature Kuraly-Acciari-Kuhlman. Admittedly, while part of me thought that a “KKA” (pronounced “Ca-Caw”) line would have a cool nickname and be fun for Cassidy to shout when their time had come to grace the ice, I also think that this grouping brings the best balance of speed, skill, and physicality to the fourth line. And that’s a combination that the Bruins have been in dire need of for more than a week now.

In all likelihood, we will probably see either the WAK line or Nordstrom with Kuraly and Acciari. Either way, there’s no scenario in which Sean Kuraly returns and the Bruins’ fourth unit isn’t immediately miles ahead of where it was just days before.

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Photo Credit: Brad Penner/ USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins just got their swagger back. And are back on Garden ice. Uh-oh.

David Krejci’s Success is Key for Bruins Stanley Cup Run

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( Photo Credit: BostonSportsExtra.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins are set to begin their quest for the team’s seventh Stanley Cup when they meet the Maple Leafs in round 1 for the second straight season. They have been one of the leagues best teams and a favorite of many to hoist Lord Stanley in June. In the middle of the Bruins’ success has been David Krejci – who had one of the most consistent and dominant seasons of his career.

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Since coming into the league in the 2007-08 season, Krejci has become an incredible offensive force and leader in the locker room for the Bruins. In his second season, Krejci put him 73 points in 82 games played. In his 12th year in the league this season, Krejci tied his career high with 73 points in 81 games played and has managed to stay healthy all year. And oh, by the way, he is about to turn 33 on April 28th.

Krejci has battled numerous injuries in the regular season and playoffs that have made fans overlook his contributions to the Bruins in the recent regular season and playoff campaigns. This season he has managed to stay healthy and only sat out one of the last regular season games to rest for the upcoming playoffs.

In 2011, Krejci began the playoffs having played 75 games that season and accumulating 62 points (13G 49A). He was healthy heading into the playoffs and was centering a line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. That line was killer to the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoff run. Krejci’s line scored huge goals in the playoffs that season including the game-winner in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the Conference Final. Nathan Horton scored the lone goal on a great feed from David Krejci that would ultimately send the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals with the 1-0 win.

Krejci led the entire playoffs that year in scoring with 12 goals (4 game-winning goals) 11 assists for 23 points in 25 games. Of course, the Bruins won the Stanely Cup against Vancouver that season and it’s no coincidence that David Krejci leading the playoffs in scoring was a huge part of that Stanley Cup.

In 2013, the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago. Again, David Krejci led the NHL in points during the playoffs by scoring 9 goals 17 assists for 26 points in 22 games. Along with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, the playmaking of Krejci was instrumental in bringing the Bruins back to the Cup Finals.

When it comes down to crunch time in the playoffs where big faceoffs in the offensive or defensive zones can be crucial ones, the Bruins have the luxury of throwing Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci out there just in case one of them gets thrown out of the draw. If Bergeron is waved out, Krejci can step in and be a reliable faceoff guy who has a 50.8% career faceoff percentage, which is a great luxury that often gets overlooked in the fan-base.

In the past few years, the Bruins have struggled to find winger’s for David Krejci after the departures of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Last year, Jake DeBrusk came into the league and put up impressive rookie numbers in the regular season and even came up huge in the playoffs for the Bruins. Much of that success has to do with Krejci taking DeBrusk under his wing. They have brewed up nice chemistry, and both are having career years. It looks as though Karson Kuhlman will step in on the other wing with Krejci and Debrusk for Game 1 against Toronto. Kuhlman has played well with Krejci and DeBrusk in 11 games this season and could be the recipe for success on the second line that the Bruins have been looking for since 2014.

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According to Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, #46 has been a quiet MVP for the Bruins: “I think David is an underlying MVP to our season, to be honest with you, really a catalyst for our group this year,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday. “Might not have gotten the prime attention that several other players deserved and merited, but it was a very consistent year for David, start-to-finish. You’re seeing the development of Jake DeBrusk, and the year that he had, and David, a lot can be attributed to that” (via Yahoo Sports).

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It is evident that if the Bruins want to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, David Krejci is an essential part of the team’s success. Krejci enters the 2019 playoffs with 87 points in 108 playoff games and has led the NHL in playoff scoring twice. Krejci is healthy and has an energetic Jake DeBrusk on his left along with a promising young Karson Kuhlman on his right and is gearing up for another successful playoff run. If Krejci stays healthy and continues his consistent play from the regular season, the Bruins will make some noise in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Boston Bruins Karson Kuhlman: Expect The Unexpected

( Photo Credit: Boston Informer )

By: Greg Aker  |  Follow Me On Twitter @akesNpains1

When it comes to name recognition, Karson Kuhlman isn’t your ordinary household name.  Outside of northern Minnesota and the greater Boston area, most hockey fans don’t know much about him.

 A 23-year-old from Esko, Minnesota, Kuhlman is starting to get the attention that he has long deserved.  A 2014 graduate of Esko High School, Kuhlman got his shot at some big-time hockey at a fairly young age. He rose through the youth ranks as a standout player and caught the attention of potential suitors further down the road on his hockey journey. Having played high school hockey in what is arguably the most competitive state from top to bottom in the entire country, Karson shined. He totaled 50 points as a freshman in only 25 games. After a stellar sophomore year, he headed south to get his feet wet in the United States Hockey League. He played the maximum amount of games allowed to retain his high school eligibility with the Dubuque Fighting Saints after he was selected 48th overall in the 2011 Future’s Draft.  With multiple appearances at national camps and countless games in elite leagues, Kuhlman had name recognition.

Following his junior season, Karson left for good. He jumped into the Fighting Saints lineup just in time to help his team win the 2013 Clark Cup, awarded to the USHL playoff champions. In his first full season playing with Dubuque, Kuhlman led the team in goals (25), was second in points (44), and earned a spot on the league’s Eastern Conference All-Star Team.  His former head coach, Jim Montgomery (and current head coach of the Dallas Stars), took a job as the head coach of the storied Denver University Pioneers and hoped to land him. After official visits to the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of North Dakota, it was on the car ride home from Grand Forks, N.D. that Kuhlman told his father that he wanted to be a Minnesota Duluth Bulldog.

 In college, Kuhlman started to fly under the radar a bit, and many that know his story often question why. He was told by multiple NHL organizations that he was a potential draft pick. It never happened. Talking with Karson’s mother Jennifer, she mentioned Karson was and continues to be his biggest critic. Not being drafted by a professional club only further motivated him. He didn’t let it bother him, continued to work hard, and has always lived “in the now.” Nothing about his college career would jump out at you on paper.

He posted 80 points over the course of four seasons, a fairly modest total for a kid now jumping into an NHL lineup. Still, what makes Karson special is what doesn’t always show up on the point sheet. He was selected as an assistant team captain of the Bulldogs as a junior and captained the team as a senior.  His leadership qualities were so strong that head coach Scott Sandelin didn’t name a third captain after underclassman, and then assistant captain Adam Johnson left for the professional ranks within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Kuhlman played in every single game of his college career. 166 straight if anyone is counting. Former UMD assistant coach and 8-year NHL veteran Derek Plante had this to say about the current Bruin: “Karson is the hardest working player that I have had the pleasure to work with.

It comes as no surprise that he is continuing to have success at the highest level. He is the player that every coach wants on his team and is a joy to be around.”  His senior year as a collegiate player wasn’t promising to start. The Bulldogs were hoping to rebound from a devastating loss in the National Championship to the University of Denver the previous April. Onlookers didn’t have high expectations for the 2017-2018 UMD Bulldogs. Instead of accepting the predicted outcome by others, Kuhlman worked extra hard and instilled his leadership in his teammates. The end result was the program’s second-ever national championship.  You can probably guess who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. It was Karson Kuhlman.

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 Kuhlman attended professional development camps during his collegiate career in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Boston. Only four days removed from winning a national championship, Kuhlman signed a two-year NHL contract with the Boston Bruins. Kuhlman joined the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season, tallying a lone assist over the course of two games. Kuhlman has totaled 12-18-30 over 58 games for Providence this season, but it’s what he has shown at the professional level that has been most impressive.

He has played alongside virtually every forward in the Boston lineup over the course of 11 games. He has factored in the scoring column and sits at a +5. Karson Kuhlman is versatile. He kills penalties. He plays a tremendous two-way game. He plays instinctively and intelligently regardless if he has the puck or not. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. It’s these qualities that have gained the attention of Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, and rightfully so. Like he has proven time and time again throughout his life, he won’t let anyone out-work him. What he lacks in skill he makes up for it through dedication and hard work.

 Karson Kuhlman isn’t your ordinary household name, but the fact that he will play a factor for the Boston Bruins moving forward just might change that. 

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Bruins – Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Matchup

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin on Wednesday, April 10th with five games slated for the postseason to kick off. The Bruins and Leafs have to wait to get their series started on Thursday at TD Garden. This will be the second straight season that the Bruins will face Toronto in the first round series and it certainly will not disappoint.

The Leafs come into the series with one of the league’s most potent offense. With former first overall picks Auston Matthews and John Tavares and a supporting cast of incredible young talent in Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Kasperi Kapanen, the Leafs were the second top scoring team in the league with 3.5 goals per game. The Bruins offense has been stellar this season as well led by the best line in the NHL with Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak but ranked 10th in the league with 3.1 goals per game.

Boston’s second line has seemed to find a jump this season compared to last year with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk putting up career numbers. Along with them, Karson Kuhlman will join them for at least game 1 and has earned his spot on that line putting up three goals and two assists for five points in 11 games this season.

On the back-end, the Bruins have arguably one of the best defensive cores in the postseason this year with a healthy Brandon Carlo at the forefront. Carlo is finally healthy to begin the playoffs after missing the past two post-seasons with late March and early April devastating injuries. Carlo has been one of the most consistent players this season and has really broken out to become a shut-down, high hockey IQ defenseman for the B’s. Along with Chara’s leadership, the quarterbacking of Torey Krug on the powerplay, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins are pretty deep in the defensive end.

Across the sheet, Toronto’s defense is not their strong suit. Last year’s playoffs were not good for Jake Gardiner who posted a -6 rating and got torched at times by the Bruins in the 2017-2018 first round seven-game series. With Ron Hainsey, Jake Muzzin, Travis Dermott, and Nikita Zaitsev, the defense should not scare the Bruins. However, Morgan Reilly has emerged as a Norris Trophy candidate this season thanks in part to his 20 goals 52 assists for 72 points in 82 games played, Reilly has become an incredible offensive defenseman but is really the only force on the blueline for the Leafs. The Bruins ranked third in goals against this year with 212 while Toronto ranked 20th with 249. For this series, I would give the defensive edge to Boston although they will have to be sharp against the Leafs offense.

In goal, the Bruins have arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league. Rask and Halak have helped the Bruins to the aforementioned third place in goals against and third in goals-against average. Rask has had a lesser workload thanks to Halak being able to step in and split time and do it well. Rask this season has posted a 27-13-5 record with a 2.48 goals against average and a .912 save percentage along with 4 shutouts. Rask had a rocky start to the year and even had to take a leave of absence but upon his return, has returned to form and even became the all-time Bruins winningest goalie after a 1-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Leafs goaltending is also a position that they have struggled with this season. Just last week, the Leafs sent backup Garrett Sparks down to the AHL and called up Michael Hutchinson because of Sparks’ recent struggling play. Frederik Anderson is the number one in Toronto and has posted a 36-16-7 record with a .917 save percentage, a 2.77 goals against average and one shutout. However, he is not the most consistent goalie and has struggled at times against Boston. In last years playoffs, he posted a 3.76 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. Leafs fans had a scare when in the final game of this season, Andrew Shaw of the Canadiens bumped into Anderson’s head and many Leafs fans feared that he was injured although he finished the game in Montreal. I would again give the edge to Boston in the goaltending department but Tuukka Rask has got to stay on top of his game against the Leafs offense and make the necessary saves that the Bruins need.

Home-ice advantage is big for Boston and they were rewarded with that luxury this season in the opening round against Toronto. The Bruins went 29-9-3 on TD Garden ice this season and have taken the two previous series from the Leafs in game seven on home ice. In 2013, the Bruins came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to win the game 5-4 in overtime in all-time great game Bruins and NHL game seven. Last spring, the Bruins came back again on home ice and eliminated Toronto 7-4 in another home game 7 for Boston.

This series is going to be yet another great matchup. The Bruins need to continue their season-long shutdown defense, strong goaltending, and creative offense in order to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the second straight year, this original six rivalry will heat up for a playoff series and it all starts April 11th at TD Garden.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Game Recap 3/27/19

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

Coming into Wednesday’s contest against Wilkes Barre/Scranton, the Bruins hoped to gain momentum from two huge pieces of news. For one, they had the opportunity to break a tie with the Hershey Bears for control of third place in the Atlantic Division. The bigger piece of off-ice news for fans is that Providence came to an agreement on a ten-year affiliation extension for the National Hockey League Boston Bruins. Providence has been the exclusive pipeline team for the Bruins since 1992 and in that time has developed over 200 players who have competed for the big club, including Boston’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. Providence was on the road Wednesday to treat the opposing fans to yet another win as the club continues marching towards their 22nd postseason appearance.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (away)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

The Penguins have proved to be a very evenly matched opponent for the Bruins, and Wednesday’s contest started out no different. The game began later than usual due to a power outage in Mohegan Sun Arena, but the situation was remedied without a problem. Off of a great zone entry, Jake Luccini notched the first tally of the game for the Penguins, it was just his second goal of the regular season. In what has become somewhat of a theme for returning players, former Bruin Jimmy Hayes was able to pick up an assist on the goal.

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The shots remained even for the two teams through twenty minutes but not without a few extracurricular activities following the whistles. Chris Breen was called for a check to the head in the closing two minutes of the period, leading to a mini-scrum and the Penguins’ first power play of the game. Thankfully they would be unsuccessful as the first twenty minutes ended.

Score: 1-0 Penguins

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Second Period:

With the captain Jordan Szwarz as well as the always aggressive Anton Blidh providing the physicality, Providence was poised to come back in the second period and get the score even. The two teams exchanged power plays around the halfway point of the period, but goaltenders Zane McIntyre and Tristan Jarry made sure none of the shots hit twine. The Bruins picked up the pace in the shot department as well as they held the Penguins to just five in the second period.

Score: 1-0 Penguins

Third Period:

Six and a half minutes through the third period, Wilkes Barre/Scranton was able to get a big insurance goal to double the lead. Penguins center Sam Lafferty kept in a Bruins clearing attempt which led to a great feed from Ryan Haggerty to Sam Miletic for his tenth goal of the season. With that final tally, the Bruins, unfortunately, did not have an answer as the Penguins picked up the victory and Tristan Jarry recorded his first shutout of the season. The win left the Penguins on 76 points, still out of a playoff position and three points behind the Bruins.

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Final: 2-0 Penguins

A few post-game notes: Tommy Marchin made his AHL debut with the Bruins and logged some solid ice time, mostly with Providence’s bottom six. Paul Carey was given a two year, two-way contract extension that should see him in Providence for a little while longer. Boston also announced that Karson Kuhlman had been reassigned to Providence which would certainly give the AHL club an offensive boost with Boston mostly in preparation mode for the playoffs. Next up for Providence will be a tilt with the Syracuse Crunch, who have already clinched their spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.

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Bruins Kuhlman Fits A Few Needs As Playoffs Approach

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( Photo Credit: Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Just to get it out of the way, Karson Kuhlman has one of the best names in professional hockey. You’ve got alliteration. You’ve got “K”s where you were expecting “C”s. The word “cool” fits in there somehow. Very impressive performance by his name, and big ups to his parents.

Somehow, Kuhlman’s contributions to the Bruins in the abbreviated time that he has been granted with the club have outshined the coolness/Kuhlness of his name. Just one season removed from an impressive collegiate career at Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman has shown that, as far as forward call-ups from Providence go, he might be as NHL-ready as any of them.

In his first stint with the Bruins in February, Kuhlman impressed as a relatively unheralded prospect. His solid, yet unflashy point totals in the AHL might be to blame for how deeply undersold he was as an effective contributor in the Bruins’ lineup. Kuhlman was able to grace the scoresheet in two of his first three games as a right-wing plug-in alongside David Krejci, providing points in two important games against formidable west coast opponents in Vegas and San Jose (both ended up being one-goal wins for Boston).

After tallying a silky goal in another Black and Gold win over Florida on Saturday night, Kuhlman’s potential as a contributing forward in the offensive end has been made clear. In the individual effort displayed during this goal alone illuminates Kuhlman’s skating ability, hands, and finishing drive. Not to mention how he is able to use his body to shield the puck from the defenseman he just breezed in order to create further separation on his way to the net. A quick snap of the wrist (low glove, thanks for coming), and bingo was his name-oh.

Goals are good. Points are great. Offensive tools are at a premium come playoff time. But I wouldn’t be doing my duty as someone who self-proclaims his duty to be an explanation of young Bruins talent if I didn’t shed some light on the depth of his game.

Kuhlman, in what has been so far just a little more than a handful of games with the Black and Gold, has shown that he is playing a 200-foot game that many young Bruins prospects have left to be desired. In his own zone, Kuhlman’s positioning is superb for a young player. Undoubtedly, he plays like someone who was a lead-by-example captain at the college level.

Kuhlman’s work ethic shines in corner battles and on the forecheck, where his being a novice to the NHL has been drowned out by his skating, tenacity, and grit. His ability to hunt pucks without compromising his positioning and playmaking potential make him useful on any line.

 

Why Kuhlman is Playoff Material

Last year, the Bruins’ season came to an end with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo on the shelf, crippling a defensive unit that was searching for depth and struggling to maintain its health throughout the playoffs. David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash, and Zdeno Chara were also dealing with injuries during the playoffs and into the offseason.

Unfortunately, a depleted Bruins roster didn’t have the depth last year to make the “next man up” philosophy all that effective when tasked with taking on an opponent as formidable as Tampa. Certainly, there were players available to enter the lineup. But these players seemed to make more of a change on the lineup card then on the actual ice surface. And unfortunately, that’s where the games are played.

This is where Kuhlman makes a difference. As a versatile forward who can bring the skill to fill in as a top-six forward, and the discipline, grit, and skating to play among the bottom-six, he gives Bruce Cassidy significantly more leeway with his playoff roster than he had last year.

Currently, Kuhlman is holding Marcus Johansson’s place on the second line, but with MoJo’s return to the lineup closer every day, it’s quite possible that we see Kuhlman drop down to a bottom –six role while Sean Kuraly is injured. In all likelihood, this would mean Joakim Nordstrom gets removed from the lineup. Nordstrom seems like a great person, with a good work ethic, and a mediocre goatee. But if you object to his removal from the lineup, then we are no longer friends.

While Kuhlman’s short-term role might be more clear-cut, don’t be surprised if he sticks around to fill into spots that get vacated by ailing Bruins. I’d much rather see a healthy Karson Kuhlman than an injured forward not named Pastrnak, Bergeron, or Marchand. His presence alone allows Cassidy to give rest to players who might need it down the stretch without compromising the effectiveness of the lineup all that much.

And that’s pretty cool. Man.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Florida: 03/23/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: BB&T Center – Sunrise, Florida, USA

Home: Florida Panthers (33-29-12, 5th in Atlantic)

Away: Boston Bruins (45-20-9, 2nd in Atlantic)

The Boston Bruins are back at it following another dominating performance on Thursday night over the New Jersey Devils, winning the game by a final score of 5-1. The team has won three consecutive games and with a win in any fashion tonight, the Bruins can clinch a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins enter the game with 99 points, six ahead of the Maple Leafs for third in the division.

The Florida Panthers have not had as good of a year as expected as they sit seven points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida comes into tonight’s contest with a 5-4-1 record in their last ten games including a 4-2 victory on March 21st over the Arizona Coyotes.

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Forward Karson Kuhlman comes back into the lineup Saturday to replace Sean Kuraly. It was announced earlier today that Kuraly suffered a fracture in his hand, causing him to miss at least the next four weeks. The injury came from a blocked shot in Thursday’s 5-1 win over the Devils in New Jersey.

Marcus Johansson, Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller, and Torey Krug remain out of the Bruins lineup as well due to their respective injuries. Jaroslav Halak will start as the goaltender in between the pipes for Boston.

First Period:

It’s always important to take away any home advantage when you’re the road club and the Bruins did just that. Just over two-and-a-half minutes into the first, Connor Clifton dumps the puck in the zone where David Backes recovers down low. Backes makes it look like he is going around the net, but feeds it in front of the net for Noel Acciari who buries his 5th of the season.

Not very long following that, Panthers forward Mike Hoffman is sent to the penalty box for a two-minute roughing minor. Bruins are 1-for-10 on the power-play in their last ten attempts, looking to make it 2-0 early. Thirty seconds into the PP, Marchand to Bergeron leads to a ringer off the post, so close but no cigar. Florida kills off the penalty, back to even strength.

For the remainder of the opening period, both teams had some decent chances, but it could be argued that Boston had the best of them. Chances from Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, and others piled up around the halfway mark of the frame, but Panthers netminder Samuel Montembeault held his ground, stopping all of the shots against. Period ends with the lone goal by Accari, 1-0 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 16 FLA: 12

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Acciari (5) Assists: Backes (12), Clifton (1)

Second Period:

Do you think the Bruins like goals early in a period? I think so too. Almost immediately into the middle regulation frame, Mike Matheson makes a bad pass behind his own goaltender, passing it right to Bergeron who feeds it right to Brad Marchand, his 32nd of the season and the B’s extend their lead to two goals.

Still within the first minute of the second, Mike Hoffman drives in on the right side of the ice towards Halak, but makes a reacharound pass around John Moore, right to Jayce Hawryluk who beats Halak for his fifth goal of the 2018-19 campaign. Florida gets the game right back to a one-goal difference only a mere sub-30 seconds after Marchand’s goal.

Florida’s tally seemed to wake them up from a slower first twenty minutes, building some quality chances within the Bruins zone. Just a little bit under five minutes into the second frame, Boston has seen very little offensive zone time and they are in a way, relying on Halak to keep them in the lead.

As many have said, defence often leads to offence and once again, it comes true for the Bruins. Charlie Coyle does a solid job keeping the puck in the offensive zone and makes a quick pass to Danton Heinen. Heinen throws the puck back, where captain Zdeno Chara skates into a beautiful wrist shot, scoring his 200th career NHL goal, the same day that it was announced that he agreed to re-sign with Boston on a one-year contract.

Florida is having issues making clean breakout passes, an issue that once hurt the Bruins earlier on in the season themselves and for Florida, it is turning into goals against. MacKenzie Weegar’s pass out of his zone gets intercepted by Karson Kuhlman in the neutral zone. Kuhlman dances around the defender and snaps a slick shot past Montembeault for his second goal this year and the Bruins all of a sudden have a 4-1 lead. Great attack pressure by Boston.

Kuhlman is back in the NHL on the B’s roster after an injury to forward Sean Kuraly in the win over the Devils, an injury that will keep Kuraly sidelined for four weeks due to a fracture in his hand. Kuhlman has done well for a player who continually finds himself tossed around the AHL and NHL.

The Panthers are not out of this game just yet, however, as Mike Hoffman once again has some space on the off-wing and rips one of his dangerous shots clean past Jaroslav Halak. Hoffman’s goal brings him to the 35-goal mark for the first time in his National Hockey League career. Florida is still dangerous and they seem fully prepared for a goal-for-goal type of game.

11:09 into the period, the Bruins go back to the man-advantage as Mike Hoffman is whistled down on a slashing minor against Danton Heinen. Unfortunately, Boston really struggled to get any life on the power-play as the Panthers PK units did a great job clearing the puck on any chances. The best chance came in the dying seconds when a David Krejci shot led to a rebound that just skipped over the stick of John Moore, penalty killed off by Florida.

Less than three minutes later, Jayce Hawryluk gets a stick caught in Brandon Carlo’s skates and he goes to the sin bin for a tripping infraction. Needing a refresher on the power-play, the Bruins want to add another goal on the board with this man-advantage. John Moore to Danton Heinen to none other than Steven Kampfer who goes post and in for his third of the season and the Bruins score five goals in a game for the third straight, 5-2.

On the ensuing neutral zone faceoff, Noel Acciari and MacKenzie Weegar agree to drop the gloves and the two exchange in a great fight, with Noel Acciari landing the harder, more accurate punches straight to the face of Weegar. Weegar tried to bring some energy to his team and the fans but he may have done the opposite there.

In the final five minutes of the middle period, the Panthers make a mistake on the line change and both Halak and Chara recognize that. Halak feeds it to the captain who makes a perfect long pass to Pastrnak’s stick. Pastrnak walks in, makes some dangles and buries Boston’s sixth of the night, 6-2. That is David’s 33rd tally of the year. That’ll essentially do it for the second.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 FLA: 23

Score: 6-2 Bruins – Goals: Marchand (32) Assists: Bergeron (42); Hawryluk (5) Assists: Hoffman (32); Chara (5) Unassisted; Kuhlman (2) Unassisted; Hoffman (35) Assists: Weegar (11); Kampfer (3) PP Assists: Heinen (22), Moore (9); Pastrnak (33) Assists: Chara (8), Halak (4)

Third Period:

Early in the final regulation period, Connor Clifton takes the first penalty against the Bruins, an interference minor. First time tonight Boston goes on the penalty-kill. With only nine seconds to go on Clifton’s minor, Vincent Trocheck fires a shot past Halak, cutting the lead in half, 6-3. The goal is Trocheck’s eighth of the season.

The boys look a bit slow to begin the third period, allowing quite a few shots by the Florida opposition. Nearly eight minutes in, Charlie McAvoy (roughing) and Vincent Trocheck (cross-checking) go to the box each for two minutes, resulting in some 4-on-4 time. Not much came about from it and we go back 5-on-5.

Aside from that, it was somewhat a lacklustre period from both teams until the 3-minute mark of the third. Zdeno Chara grabbed Aleksander Barkov behind his head and brought his own body weight down onto Barkov’s head that landed right on the ice. The Panthers Head Coach screamed for a penalty, but nothing comes from it as Barkov stays on the bench for some small repairs.

In the final minute, with the Florida goaltender pulled from the crease, Trocheck dives across the crease to stop the shot from going in the empty-net, but only a few seconds later, David Pastrnak to Patrice Bergeron makes it a 7-3 game and the Boston Bruins have clinched the playoffs.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 39 FLA: 34

Final Score: 7-3 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS D Zdeno Chara – 200th Career NHL Goal, 1 Assist, +3 Rating, 25:07 TOI

2nd Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 31 Saves, .912 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Danton Heinen – 2 Assists, +1 Rating, 16:27 TOI

The Boston Bruins become the second team from the Eastern Conference to clinch a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have won their fourth straight game. Up next, off to Tampa Bay for a road game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm EST.

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Bruins Recall Kuhlman; Kuraly To Miss Approximately Four Weeks

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(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This morning Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team had recalled Karson Kuhlman in light of the update issued on Sean Kuraly. The team announced that Kuraly had sustained a fracture in his right hand during Thursday’s game against the Devils. The fracture was successfully repaired surgically by Dr. Matt Leibman; Kuraly’s expected recovery time is approximately four weeks.

This season Kuraly has had quite the impact, leading the Bruins’ fourth line. The 26-year-old has posted career-highs in goals (eight), assists (13), and points (21). Last season, the Dublin, Ohio native posted totals of 6/8/14. In 16 career games played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Miami University (Ohio) product has four goals and two assists for six points.

Kuhlman is in the midst of his first professional season after signing with the Bruins last April as an undrafted free agent after four years at Minnesota-Duluth. Serving as captain his senior year, the Esko, Minnesota native led his team to a National Championship, earning 2018 NCAA Tournament MVP honors after pacing the Bulldogs with a goal and an assist in the championship game. On his collegiate career, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward posted numbers of 39/41/80 in 166 games played, including 13 goals and 20 points his senior year.

In five career NHL games played, all this season, Kuhlman has one goal and one assist, with his first goal coming against the San Jose Sharks on February 18. In 58 games played with Providence this season, the winger has 12/18/30 totals along with a plus-23 rating and eight penalty minutes. After signing his contract last year, Kuhlman had an assist in two regular season games for the P-Bruins before adding an assist in one playoff game.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Sam Fryman | Follow me on Twitter @sfryman20

Friday, March 15th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Road)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Since its founding, Pennsylvania has always been known as the Keystone State. Beginning on Friday, the Bruins hoped two key victories against teams in that state would offer them the key to a playoff berth. First up were the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a team sitting five points behind Providence after just three wins in their last ten games. The Bruins also looked much different than last weekend with Connor Clifton, Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey all up with the big club and five more players out with injuries.

First Period:

The action started just 47 seconds as Zach Senyshyn got a lucky deflection right in front of Alex Lyon. The first shot was set up by Karson Kuhlman who continues his consistent offensive play for Providence. Not even a minute later, the oldest member of Bruins proved he is still a force to be reckoned with. Lee Stempniak made it two goals on two shots and the Phantoms were quickly back on their heels. For the rest of the period, Dan Vladar came up with some huge saves, including a pair of robberies on Mike Vecchione and Justin Bailey.

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period:

Special teams became the story for both Providence and Lehigh Valley as the game got to its late stages. After David Kase out the Phantoms on the board just 56 seconds in the second period with a power play, Lee Stempniak continued his brilliant night early in the third. From a good steal by Karson Kuhlman, Stempniak got the puck unchallenged and easily found the back of the net.

Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

Two minutes later, the ever aggressive Tyrell Goulbourne got sent to the box for roughing and Gemel Smith made him pay. The Bruins forward picked up his 13th goal of the season to give Providence a 4-1 lead.

As the minutes ticked down in regulation, Lehigh Valley applied a highly aggressive strategy by pulling goalie Alex Lyon with over seven minutes remaining to try to stage a comeback. The plan backfired as Peter Cehlarik put one into the empty net. A couple of garbage time goals from Connor Bunnaman and Greg Carey gave the Phantoms a glimmer of hope, but in the end, it wasn’t enough as Providence walked away with a 5-3 victory to begin the weekend.

Final: 5-3 Bruins

Saturday, March 16th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

Coming off of a solid win against the Phantoms, the Bruins went a little further up the Northeast Extension to take on the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. Through the first period of play, there were no goals to talk about although the Bruins held Wilkes Barre/Scranton to just five total shots in the period, many of them coming late.

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

The even battle was finally put to an end late in the second period with Jake Lucchini netting his first career AHL goal. He waited at the side of the net as a great two on one was started by Jimmy Hayes. Before that tally Zane McIntyre had been having one of his strongest periods of the season, turning aside many close chances from the Penguins.

Score: 1-0 Penguins

Third Period:

At the halfway point of the third period, the hard checking pressure for the Bruins finally paid off as they tied the game at one. Tristan Jarry was caught out of position and Ryan Fitzgerald found the puck on the doorstep. A three on two rush got the offense going for Providence and Karson Kuhlman was able to send in a deadly slap shot for his teammates to collect. Jakub Zboril thought he might have had the go-ahead goal with two and a half minutes to go but Jarry denied him with an aggressive, spinning save to keep the game tied.

Score: 1-1

Overtime:

Adam Johnson ended the game just over a minute into the overtime period for Wilkes Barre/Scranton. He lifted a superb forehand to backhand shot top shelf over Zane McIntyre to give the Penguins their 30th win of the season. The Bruins have one more game on the road against the Laval Rocket before returning home on Wednesday, March 22nd against the Belleville Senators. Every point will be on the line and we’ll recap every game!

Final: 2-1 Penguins

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