Bruins DeBrusk Returns To Lineup As Club Gets Healthy For Playoff Run

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Jake DeBrusk made his return to the Bruins’ lineup on Saturday after missing five games due to a lower-body injury he sustained against Carolina. An injury that, after sustaining, DeBrusk played with en route to scoring a goal and setting up the overtime winner with an incredible pass to linemate David Krejci.

 

Until Saturday, the Bruins had gone 2-3-0 since DeBrusk’s injury and had lost three straight entering their tilt against Columbus. This was the second time that the Black and Gold squared off against the Jackets in less than a week, and Columbus had handled the B’s in their matchup on March 12th, with Boston reeling from injuries.

In their first meeting, the Bruins went down 5-1 fairly early in the contest and, despite a solid push to even the score, ended up falling 7-4. While the game displayed the amount of compete that lives within the walls of the Boston locker room, it unfortunately also showed how shorthanded they were. Their weakened offensive punch failed to measure up to a healthy Columbus team.

Saturday’s game was a different story. While it was certainly a game that featured many fewer goals and better team defense and goaltending, the impact that DeBrusk made on the game was palpable.

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

The Obvious Benefits

Quite frankly, Jake The Snake rejoining the lineup is a horrible sign for teams in the East. Not only because he alone makes the Bruins lineup more effective in myriad ways, but because his return is the first domino to fall (or stand up again) in a series of key players on the Bruins that are coming back from injury.

DeBrusk’s return to the first powerplay unit not only adds skill and finishing to said unit, but it also moves a skilled player in Heinen back to the second powerplay unit, improving PP2 as well.

DeBrusk’s return to the second line moves players that play a more natural bottom-six role down to the third line, which makes the Bruins deeper throughout their entire middle six.

DeBrusk’s presence on the forecheck puts significant pressure on defensemen and eliminates their ability to beat him with skating. He shuts down the opponent and has a knack to aggressively hunts down pucks.

DeBrusk’s ability to stretch the ice with his own speed opens up the neutral zone for the Bruins and facilitates offensive-zone entries with possession.

DeBrusk’s ability to handle the puck down low extends offensive zone possession time and wears down the opposition. This lightens the load of the makeshift third line that will then likely be playing against worn down opponents, thus mitigating the possible negatives of players that are unfamiliar with one another. More time in the O-zone means more rest for the Bruins’ defensemen. This means fresher legs and better d-zone coverage.

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( Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/ AP )

The Pending Danger

Yep. DeBrusk brings a ton to the Bruins’ lineup when he’s playing at full capacity. Look at the tear he was on before he got injured. Look at his playoff performance against the Leafs last year. The kid is an absolute gamer, and you can see the intensity with which he approaches each game in the celebrations that, without fail, follow all of his goals. I would say he is made of pure energy, but there’s quite a bit of skill thrown in there as well.

So the obvious benefits of him being back are beyond beneficial (great alliteration by me, don’t mention it). But the tacit implications of his return to the lineup stretch much farther than his own individual impact on hockey games.

As DeBrusk was one of 6 Bruins to be sidelined with injuries diagnosed with short-term recovery periods, his resurgence only indicates that there is more firepower making its way back to the Black and Gold lineup. Accompanying DeBrusk are 2 more top-six forwards, in David Pastrnak (PastrBack? I’ll see myself out) and Marcus Johansson. While admittedly these two don’t carry the same weight in their respective impact on the Bruins attack, when the Bruins’ top two lines are healthy they are among the most effective in the league. In my opinion, they are the deepest top-six in the league when fully healthy.

 

But also in the current short-term injury crew are Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, and Torey Krug. In other words, a tough and reliable yet strong skating stay at home defenseman in Miller; an expectation-exceeding, smooth skating puck mover (Grz); a powerplay quarterback who makes a strong first pass (Krug). These three defensemen are all entities that have proven just how effective they can be to a healthy Bruins lineup. DeBrusk’s return from injury only signals that they are all that much closer to coming back themselves.

When the Bruins’ forward unit is whole, and their D-core is similarly healthy, then they are deep enough up front to bring it to the best in the league, and solid enough on the back end to stifle explosive offenses. We were able to see glimpses of the team’s potential against San Jose and Tampa Bay before the B’s got bit by the injury bug.

With the return of DeBrusk, comes the depth that the Bruins’ roster has not benefitted from in many years. Opponents haven’t needed to ready themselves for a Bruins team so well-rounded, and it’s my expectation that few teams, if any, will be able to adequately match up.

 

Simply put, DeReturn of DeBrusk is a big one for DeBruins.

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Pastrnak, Grzelcyk Among Other Returnees To Bruins Practice

david-pastrnak-010118-getty-ftrjpg_d8sgjt3htlw016pc8gyan44q9Photo Courtesy Of Sporting News

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced a bevy of updates at practice this morning, including the possible return of David Pastrnak who has been out since February 10th due to surgery on his injured thumb. The B’s have posted a record of 12-3-1 in his absence.

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Cassidy also announced that defenseman Torey Krug will travel with the team on their upcoming four game road trip after suffering an upper body injury during the B’s last road trip. Marcus Johansson and Matt Grzelcyk could potentially play on the road trip as well. Grzelcyk has been out for the last week after suffering an arm injury against the Penguins last Sunday night. Johansson has been out for the last two weeks since suffering a lung contusion against the Hurricanes on March 5th.

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Kevan Miller is unlikely to travel with the team this week and remains out since February 23rd. Tuukka Rask will start tomorrow night in New York when the Bruins face the Islanders. Cassidy expects Pastrnak to return to the first line when he comes back to the lineup. The B’s have been waiting to get healthy for nearly the entire season and today looked like a good sign that the team is getting close to being fully healthy.

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Spin Zone: The Bruins’ Injuries Might Be The Best Thing For Them

( Photo Credit: Winslow Towson/ USA TODAY Sports )

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

 

There are no typos in that title. I typed all of those words on purpose.

David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Kevan Miller, Marcus Johansson, and most recently Matt Grzelcyk have been sidelined with injuries during the Bruins’ impressive stretch of hockey over the last month and a half. While thankfully none of these injuries are all that severe, they did leave the Bruins shorthanded.

Certainly, many human beings with brains will look at the short term impacts that these injuries have on the roster and say it made the Black and Gold a weaker team. To those people, I offer this: Duh. But as a Bruins homer and a semi-rationally-thinking hockey fan, these injuries have been a blessing. They are perfect injuries, and I love them.

“But Cam, tell us why! We want to know!”

Relax. I’m getting to that. Don’t interrupt me.

As I was saying, I am truly proud of the Bruins’ ability to get injured in just the right ways. When compared to the severity of injuries that Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug underwent in the tail end of last season, the Bruins’ have learned from their mistakes and are getting injured in a much smarter way.

All of the Bruins that have been injured in the last month or so have done so in a way that only sidelines them for at most a month. The use of the expression “at most” is misplaced here, but I really enjoy the expression. Obviously, David Pastrnak has been out for a month already so he might have singlehandedly (nice) voided the credibility of my use of the expression. But he’ll be back soon, so I’ll allow it.

Here are the three reasons why these injuries, to important pieces of the Bruins lineup, are crucial to the team’s playoff success.

1. Secondary Scoring/Depth

David Pastrnak’s injury in the second week of February effectively removed the Bruins’ leading scorer at the time. For a team that had been plagued by a lack of depth until recently, this loss might have seemed more grave at the time than it ended up being. Pastrnak’s absence (his Pastrnabsence, if you will) thrust the responsibility of scoring onto the rest of the lineup. And the rest of the B’s, since his injury, has not only added key deadline pieces to address their secondary scoring but have answered the bell and then some (see: ridiculous point streak). A team that can survive, and even thrive without debatably their most lethal offensive threat, will only be that much stronger when they get him back. Very nice (Borat voice).

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

2. Saving Legs

While the injuries come to key cogs in the machine that is the Bruins’ lineup, their ability to keep the machine running effectively in the absence of these cogs has been impressive. The aspect of so many key players being out for brief hiatuses is that despite being injured, they are also saving their legs for the playoff stretch. While some rust can certainly be expected from each Bruin upon their respective returns, they will have just enough time to dust off the cobwebs and get back to midseason form come postseason time.

The timing of this “rest” is auspicious given that it is coming in the dog days of the season when the Bruins begin a stretch where they essentially play every other day for a month. If the team can keep winning while some of your top dogs lick their wounds, then expect to win more when they rejoin the pack (I got really into dog metaphors for a minute).

3. Accountability

Undoubtedly, injuries bring added pressure to the regulars in the lineup, as they are subsequently tasked with shouldering the load that their fallen comrade might have been expected to carry. This is true of any team. But what Bruce Cassidy has done in the absence of Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Johansson, Miller, and now Grzelcyk has been interesting—he’s shortened the bench even more.

While the injuries to the aforementioned Bruins already shorten what would be a healthy bench, Cassidy went even further in a few games by sitting players like Peter Cehlarik, Charlie Coyle, and John Moore.  While none of them had been playing all that poorly, Cassidy sent a clear message that if players weren’t putting their best effort or product on the ice, then they were no longer going to see the ice. Fortunately, it seemed like these instances of Cassidy sitting guys down paid off, and the Bruins found ways to win with their shortened bench.

While there is certainly a school of thought that might scrutinize players having too short of a leash, Cassidy has proven time and again that he knows how to get the best out of his players. The heightened responsibility created by the Bruins injuries has placed many of the remaining healthy B’s under the microscope. The focus on their play in the absence of important players has only worked to make them more accountable as a unit and as individuals.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

So there’s your spin zone. Obviously, most players will play better in the short term if their lungs aren’t bruised, or their hands aren’t broken, blah blah blah. And a healthy team will be better in the short term with healthier players. But in the case of the Bruins, I think it’s reasonable to expect that this most recent period of success combined with adversity will be looked back on as a turning point in the season.

All the teams in movies have one.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Florida: 3/7/19

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Florida Panthers

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen

Cehlarik – Krejci – Kuhlman

Nordstrom – Coyle – Backes

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Florida’s Lineup

Forwards

Huberdeau – Barkov – Dadonov

Vatrano – Trocheck – Hoffman

Hunt – Sheahan – Brouwer

McGinn – Borgstrom – Hawryluk

Defense

Matheson –  Ekblad

Yandle – Weegar

Pysyk – Brown

Goalies

Luongo

Reimer

First Period

The Bruins came into this one with a point or more in their last 17 games. They looked to continue that streak against a struggling Panthers team. The big pre-game news was that Karson Kuhlman would sub in for Jake DeBrusk who is dealing with a lower-body injury. Not much really happened of significance early on until Matt Grzelcyk took a hooking penalty, but it ended with a fairly routine penalty kill for the Bruins.

It was a pretty cut-and-dry period all around. The shots were 10-9 Florida.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

Things got interesting early with a near goal by Brad Marchand, and a tripping penalty called on Brandon Carlo. Florida converted on an Aleksander Barkov tip to make it 1-0 early on in the power play. David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom nearly connected for the equalizer almost immediately afterward.

Misfortune continued for the Bruins when Jonathan Huberdeau scored early on in the power play that resulted from Zdeno Chara’s delay of game penalty. The goal was reviewed for a high stick, but the call on the ice stood.

A little more than halfway through the period, the Bruins finally found their way on to the scoreboard thanks to a really nice give-and-go between Danton Heinen and David Krejci. His 17th goal of the season was assisted by Heinen (16) and Backes (10).

Krejci stayed in the fray of things when he drew a high sticking penalty within the final two minutes of the period. The Panthers lead in shots again, 7-5 in the period, 17-14 overall, but the Bruins made some headway towards a comeback.

Score: 2-1 Florida

Third Period

Florida’s two goals on the night to this point came on the power play, and they got an opportunity for another when Chris Wagner went off for tripping. Their power play didn’t last long as Barkov went off for a trip of his own to make it 4-on-4. A Marchand breakaway highlighted the 4-on-4, but no one scored.

It was all about the penalties early on in the third as Torey Krug was the next culprit for hooking. Tuukka Rask made some huge saves on the penalty kill on some of Florida’s top players. Then, who else but Patrice Bergeron to even things up, and whilst shorthanded. 2-2 with around 11 minutes to go. Bergeron’s 24th of the season was assisted by Charlie McAvoy (15) and Marchand (51).

The tie didn’t last long as Huberdeau gave Florida the lead back with his second goal of the game.

Krejci drew yet another penalty in the last three minutes of regulation, giving the Bruins a huge opportunity to tie the game. With just around a minute to go, Rask was pulled for the extra attacker. That move proved fruitful as Matt Grzelcyk picked an ideal time to end his 48-game goal drought and tie the game. Marchand and McAvoy tallied their second points of the game on the assist of Grzelcyk’s second goal of the season.

Remember what I said about Bergeron? Oh yeah, he scored another clutch goal. Seven seconds left, puck on his stick, game over. This Bruins team is something else.

The point streak extends itself to 18 games. Brad Marchand’s third assist of the game was the lone one on the goal. The shots in the period were 14-7 Bruins, and 28-24 overall. Next up for the Bruins are the Ottawa Senators at home at 7 PM on Saturday.

Final Score: 4-3 Boston

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Here is What John Moore Means to the Bruins’ Success

( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

What might reasonably be forgotten or overlooked amidst the dominance with which the Boston Bruins have been playing as of late, is now riddled with injuries there roster was for a significant portion of the season. While the forward units have had battles of their own, this season has seen the ensemble of Bruins defensemen take more punishment than any other unit. Injuries to the majority of the Bruins top-7 defenseman have brought prospects like Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, and Urho Vaakanainen into the lineup for stints of their own. Steven Kampfer similarly played in more games (25) than many Bruins fans might have anticipated coming into the season.

The Bruins are not unique because of their struggles with injuries. In an 82-game season, you would be a fool to expect to throw out the same lineups every night for the duration of the season. Injuries happen to every team, almost always hurt. And, depending on where and how severely they strike, they can hurt A LOT.

( Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire/ Getty Images )

The potential disaster that looms when injuries to important pieces in the Bruins lineup occur has been countered effectively by two important factors—the Bruins’ depth, and skillful coaching. Here, I will focus on the former. Specifically, how John Moore’s presence among Bruins’ blueliners has been and will continue to be instrumental, and how it can easily be overlooked and underappreciated.

 

Big Credit to Me

First, let me state that I am amazingly refraining from using every corny Moore/more pun that comes into my head. Which is incredibly difficult for me, especially given that I am speaking to how an increased role (more responsibility) on Moore’s behalf alleviates a lot of the issues that the Bruins dealt with late in last season. This restraint from overusing the cheap relationship between “Moore” and “more” (woah, they sound the same but are spelled differently!) is incredibly impressive of me, many will say. But I don’t expect your praise. Just listen to my words.

Understated

John Moore’s signing in the offseason flew under the radar for most casual hockey fans. Sure, he’d been in the league a few years and is widely regarded as a “solid” defenseman—a proven entity who will neither make nor break your team’s success. His contract doesn’t break the bank, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hockey-porn highlight video of coast-to-coast goals featuring Moore, so it registered as slightly less than newsworthy. But in the short (hopefully) examination of Moore’s game that follows, I’m hoping you can view his role like I do (Moore clearly, sorry), to understand just how big of a piece he is to the Black and Gold.

Wheels

John Moore does not play a complex style of hockey. To the lei-person, you might describe it as a “meat and potatoes” type of game. He keeps it simple, plays primarily North-South, and makes a good first pass. “Meat and potatoes” might be accurate, if you’re talking about meat and potatoes that can skate like the wind. John Moore’s biggest asset is his skating ability, something that is often overlooked due to his generally stay-at-home-iness.” I might Trademark that term, I’m not sure yet. It’s neither here nor there.

John Moore can fly. While he doesn’t possess the offensive skill set or playmaking ability of fellow blueliner Torey Krug or *insert all-star defensemen here*, he has the motor to play with significant pace, which helps the Bruins for a few reasons. Not only do Moore’s wheels help him fit in with a D core that has evolved in terms of their skating ability as a whole, but they afford him the freedom to jump up in the play as needed. Moore’s speed and hustle to get back quickly coming back to Boston’s own end allow him to play more creatively in the offensive zone, which has manifested itself through Moore making confident pinches and extending offensive zone time for the B’s.

He won’t rank among the Bruin’s most reliable puck movers, scorers, or tough guys. But John Moore plays with pace, grit, and speed. In today’s NHL and its massive emergence of speed and skill among forwards, it’s crucial to have as many defensive pieces as possible to match speed and eliminate it as a threat. I look at John Moore as a workingman’s Nick Leddy.

Depth/Health

Coming into the season, Moore was brought in to be an effective third-paring defenseman. His contract reflected the belief that the organization had in Moore to play solid minutes every night as a regular. As the season has progressed, Moore has, as of late, been looked to as the 7th defenseman. On nights where the D-core has been healthy, Moore has found himself out of the lineup. Fortunately for the Bruins, this is not a reflection of poor play on Moore’s behalf. In all honesty, this has come about due to the astounding development in the game of Matt Grzelcyk, who has not only played himself into the Bruins’ regular defensive unit but has earned himself some time on the second powerplay unit as well.

Having addressed that Moore’s status is not the result of any type of poor play, this presents itself as a great problem to have. A problem of too many good and healthy players is one that Don Sweeney and Bruce Cassidy would have killed to have last season, as their depleted defensive unit couldn’t stave off Tampa Bay’s offensive onslaught in the second round of the playoffs. When looking at Moore’s roughly $2.75M/year contract, I think most would agree the defensive depth and reliability is a resource that has proven to easily be worth $3 million, especially after seeing what Brandon Carlo’s absence did to the B’s playoff hopes.

Interestingly, as I mentioned earlier, almost all of the Bruins regular 7 defensemen have missed time this year due to injury. Among the least affected by the injury bug has been Moore himself. This has allowed the Cassidy’s Bruins to continue to field a bona fide 6-man defensive unit even when injuries have struck. Even now, the B’s find themselves down Kevan Miller for the foreseeable week or so—something that would be exponentially more troublesome if not for Moore’s steady hand and readiness on the back end. The best ability is availability, and Moore has it in spades.

Eating Minutes/Shots

In a category that is much less based in nuance, Moore’s average ice time is in the 19-minute range. By all accounts, this stat is completely unremarkable on its own. However, when it is factored into the equation (not an actual equation) that involves how much rest it provides top dogs like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Zdeno Chara, it proves to be much more significant. Teams struggle when third-paring defenseman can only be counted on to play 12 solid minutes a night because it means that top-pairing defensemen will end up shouldering the load for at least 25 minutes. This type of even distribution that Moore can bring to the Bruins’ defense makes the unit more effective as a whole and counterbalances the negatives that fatigue can bring to many a D-core.

John Moore eats important minutes. Let’s call them his lunch. But what’s for dinner? Shots. John Moore soaks pucks. Despite having a set of tools that doesn’t extend much past his skating ability, John Moore is second among Bruins’ defensemen in blocked shots, with 72. For someone that skates as gracefully as Moore does, it’s encouraging to see him embrace the gritty side of things, which is something that Bruins fans love (see: Gregory Campbell). Moore’s willingness to put his body in harm’s way to prevent scoring chances, and doing so effectively, make him a staple on the Bruins’ penalty kill.

The Bruins’ currently hold one of the better penalty kills in the league and will need to continue to do so to get through offensive juggernauts in the East like Tampa and Toronto.

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What it Means?

For those who wished to skip the details of what John Moore means to this Bruins team, the three-word summary reads as follows: He is important.

Moore brings speed, depth, health, grit, and perhaps most importantly, he brings experience to a team that has its fair share of talented yet inexperienced players. All evidence points to John Moore’s continued unheralded contributions to a successful Bruins team. He won’t get recognized for it by most people.

But I don’t think he’ll care.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Buffalo: 12/29/18

Bruins Sabres Hockey

PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

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

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: KeyBank Center – Buffalo, New York, USA

Home: Buffalo Sabres (21-12-5)

Away: Boston Bruins (20-14-4)

The Bruins have lost their last two games against the Hurricanes and the Devils this week and will look to end that streak against Buffalo.

The Sabres have lost three of their last four games including losses to the Blues, Capitals, and Panthers.

Before the game, the Sabres are third in the Atlantic Division with 47 points and the Bruins are in the second Wild Card spot with 44 points.

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

First Period:

In the opening minutes of this Friday game, both the Sabres and Bruins battled against each other in some back-and-forth action. Four minutes in, only two shots were registered – one for each team. 4:40 into the hockey game, one of the newest Sabres, Jeff Skinner, races past Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, getting a backhand shot that is stopped from a sprawling Tuukka Rask. However, defenceman Marco Scandella pots home the rebound and it is 1-0 Sabres. The goal is Scandella’s second of the year assisted by Skinner (13) and Reinhart (30).

Somewhere before the halfway mark of the opening frame, the Bruins started to build some chances 5-on-5. The team cycled the puck around the boards and took some shots – most of which blocked by the opposition.

The aggressive play paid off. Sabres d-man Jake McCabe made a mistake handling the puck behind Carter Hutton and the puck bounced right to Noel Acciari who fired a shot off of Rasmus Ristolainen and into the net. Acciari is back in the lineup due to David Backes’ three-game suspension and he scores his first goal of the 2018-19 season. While the goal is deemed unassisted, Kevan Miller deserves credit for bringing the puck behind the net, creating the Buffalo turnover.

At 8:53, Jake DeBrusk is tripped up in Buffalo’s zone and the whistle is blown. Not long after that, former Canadiens player Nathan Beaulieu cross-checks DeBrusk from behind, leading to retaliation from Jake with a cross-check of his own. A small scuffle ensues but no serious fights come out of it. Bruins get a 5-on-4 powerplay.

On the Bruins man-advantage, Patrice Bergeron ripped a hard one-timer that was blocked by Jake McCabe. McCabe drops immediately and struggles to put any weight on his one leg. The Sabres manage to clear the puck and McCabe heads down the Buffalo tunnel. The B’s looked fluid on the PP but failed to turn the two official shots into goals.

Boston continued to stay constant on the pressure and one of the best chances late in the frame came with 3 1/2 minutes left. Colby Cave finds Chris Wagner on a 2-on-1 but Wagner’s shot is just barely stopped with Hutton’s glove. Back the other way, Cave is sent to the box for two minutes for a hooking minor.

Boston did a great job killing the penalty and did it with minimal opportunities by the Sabres offence. Bruins had a good first period, outshooting the Sabres 14-7 in the twenty-minute frame.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 BUF: 7

Score: 1-1 – Goals: Scandella, Acciari

Second Period

Early on, a pair of penalties by either team eventually led to a four-minute power play for the Bruins due to a high-sticking double-minor. Somehow, on the man-advantage for Boston, the Sabres escape on a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak the lone man back. Evan Rodrigues made a nice pass to Johan Larsson who buried his fourth of the season to make it 2-1 Buffalo. Scandella also picks up a helper on the play. Tuukka Rask showed his frustration after the goal went in, he wanted that back.

The rest of the period lacked any real good chances for either team but Buffalo seemed to have the better chances when they did come. Neither goaltender was truly challenged after the Larsson goal earlier in the frame. Tuukka Rask did come up big at one point in the period, stoning Elie with a massive glove save.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 21 BUF: 21

Score: 2-1 Sabres – Goals: Larsson

Third Period:

The opening minutes of the third period wasn’t boring, but it was not very entertaining hockey, to say the least. Whenever the offensive unit for each respective team entered the zone, they were quickly shut down by the opposing defensemen. For the Bruins, passes were not tape-to-tape whatsoever and the shots often hit members in front of the goalie.

About ten minutes into the frame, Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt makes a blind pass right in front of his goaltender, Carter Hutton, only to feed it directly to Danton Heinen. Heinen attempted a deke but failed to shoot the puck over the sprawling tender. Danton was benched by Cassidy earlier in the game and missing this goal stings.

At the 7:45 mark, Torey Krug failed to break the puck out cleanly to DeBrusk along the boards, instead, passing it to Zach Bogosian of the Sabres. Bogosian’s shot is deflected by Remi Elie but Rask holds strong and makes the save.

With not too many chances to score for Buffalo, they needed to create some offence. Former Penguin, Connor Sheary steals the puck from Jake DeBrusk and tries to use his speed to get around Bruins Brandon Carlo, but the big defender in the Spoked-B sweater held his own and prevented a shot from coming off of Sheary’s stick. Some great defence showed by Carlo.

On a Bruins power-play, (Ristolainen for kneeing), one where the Bruins had great control and many chances with time ticking down, still down by one goal. Jake DeBrusk was everywhere on the man-advantage, shooting pucks, hitting players, attempting deflections and working along the boards. Eventually, a shot from Torey Krug is deflected beautifully by DeBrusk, tying the game with around 2:30 remaining in the final regulation period.

Bruins go to the 3-on-3 overtime session tied 2-2, solid finish to the third period by Boston with some chances to win late in the regulation time.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 39 BUF: 26

Score: 2-2 – Goals: DeBrusk

Overtime:

Following some decent chances in the overtime session, David Krejci is called on an interference penalty on Jeff Skinner and the Bruins are forced to go on the penalty kill in the do-or-die overtime. Boston’s penalty killers did a great job shutting down the offence of Buffalo and killed it off.

Vladimir Sobotka had a solid chance while driving in on Tuukka Rask, but Rask stayed relaxed and made a big save in tight on Sobotka keeping it tied with 1:38 to go in the period.

Off of a defensive zone faceoff victory, the pairing of Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk made some d-to-d passes, before Grzelcyk decided to feed the puck to Sean Kuraly. Kuraly bolted down the wing, taking a shot once he entered the zone. Hutton could not control the rebound as it bounced right back to Kuraly who buried the game-winner 3:44 into OT.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 42 BUF: 28

Final Score: 3-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BUF G Carter Hutton – 39 Saves, .929 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – 1 Game-Winning Goal, +1 Rating, 4 Shots, 15:43 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Noel Acciari – 1 Goal, +1 Rating, 5 Shots, 67% Faceoffs, 14:34 TOI

Boston’s record now improves to 22-14-4 and currently sits in the first Wild Card position with 46 points. The Canadiens are at 45 points, losing tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 after a late regulation goal by Adam Erne. The Bruins now set their focus to the 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks (14-20-6). Scheduled puck drop for Tuesday’s game is 1:00pm EST. Check out my Winter Classic article via the Tweet below!!

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was drafted in the 2nd round 45th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. When he was drafted, he was a smooth skating two-way center who had an impressive offensive game. While he could score on his own, his passing ability and vision on the ice are what really won over scouts. He was even crowned “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by then fellow prospect Matt Grzelcyk. That’s some high praise to live up to, so let’s dig into what’s happened since being drafted and see why he garnered such high praise.  

After being drafted, Forsbacka Karlsson was slated to begin the 2015-16 with Boston. Boston University that is. During his Freshman season with the Boston University Terriers Forsbacka Karlsson played in 39 games potting 10 goals and dishing out 20 assists for 30 total points and +/- rating of +4. This was a good first season since being drafted for Forsbacka Karlsson. He was able to show off his offensive skill especially distributing the puck. He also was able to show that because of his slick skating, his defensive game was almost as impressive, if not more so than his offensive game. This garnered high praise from the Bruins organization. Both Forsbacka Karlsson and the Bruins hoped it was a season to build upon going forward.  

The 2016-17 season was Forsbacka Karlsson’s Sophomore season at Boston University, and he came into it wearing the “A” on his sweater. This is a big deal, he was already showing at a young age he had those intangible leadership qualities that teams look for. In 39 games with the Terriers, Forsbacka Karlsson improved a lot on his first season netting 14 goals and dishing out 19 assists for 33 total points and a rating of +11. This was a great season for Forsbacka Karlsson and something that stood out even more than his offensive ability was the way he played in his own zone. His defensive responsibility is what separated himself from other prospects around the same age. It was such a good season he even got into 1 game with the Boston Bruins at the end of the year. He didn’t register a point in limited ice-time, but he got a little taste of what it was like to play on the big stage of the NHL. 

The 2017-18 brought a big change for Forsbacka Karlsson. It was his first professional season, and he spent the entirety of it in the AHL with Providence. He wasn’t fully developed as a prospect yet, but he had the tools to be a good offensive forward who could also be shut down defensively. All that was left was taking those tools, developing them, and putting them together on the ice. Forsbacka Karlsson was able to get into 59 games for Providence netting 15 goals and dishing out 17 assists for 32 total points and a rating of +3. He also played in Providence’s 4 playoff games netting 1 goal with 0 assists for 1 total point and a rating of –2. It was good first full professional season for Forsbacka Karlsson to build on moving forward.  

Coming into this season Forsbacka Karlsson was in the running for the third-line center job out of training camp. He ultimately was sent down at the end of camp to Providence to work on some things. One big thing the Bruins wanted him working on was shooting the puck more. He is more of a pass-first forward looking to get others involved before scoring himself. While in Providence he did get into 10 games scoring 1 goal and distributing 3 assists for 4 total points a rating of –2. Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was impressed with his play and with injuries piling up for Boston, Forsbacka Karlsson was called up to the big club. In 9 games with Boston, he does have 2 goals and 0 assists for 2 total points and a rating of –2. His primary role has been more limiting the opposition’s scoring chances because of the injuries to the Bruins defense. However, I would look for his role to increase as he gets more comfortable and more players start to get healthy. 

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of the Bruins best prospects moving forward. He has all the tools to become a good shutdown forward who can also contribute in the offensive zone. While he was dubbed “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by teammate Matt Grzelcyk early on as a prospect, another player I have seen Forsbacka Karlsson compared to is David Backes from his days in St. Louis. Now, these are both lofty comparisons to live up to but with a little time, and effort they are ones that Forsbacka Karlsson could live up to. Overall, with the Bruins’ current forwards and the ones on the verge of making it, the present and future are both very bright for the Boston Bruins.  

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The Bruins’ Underrated: D Matt Grzelcyk

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

boston-bruins-v-new-jersey-devils-fc841dae48d7ea13.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matt-grzelcyk-916714ee2649f36f.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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

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

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

 

Original Video (Grzelcyk play at 6:15):

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

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

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

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

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Young Defensemen, Goaltenders Come Up Big For The Bruins Over The Weekend

Image result for bruins coyotes(Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin | AP)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

This weekend had the potential to be a turbulent one for the Bruins, but a couple gutsy efforts got them three out of four points. With an already battered defensive core, Zdeno Chara’s MCL injury against Colorado left them another man down, and John Moore’s lower-body injury hampered them even more against Arizona. The Bruins didn’t allow those injuries to let the floodgates open against the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes.

This comes in large part due to the new-look defensive core, and the goaltenders. Tuukka Rask started on Friday in his first start coming off his leave of absence and was the main reason they took a point out of the loss. Rask made 36 saves, and the young defensemen stepped up when they were needed to. Dallas, like Boston, has a battered defensive core themselves with John Klingberg, Marc Methot, Connor Carrick, and Stephen Johns out of the lineup. So looking into the game from the outside, it could have been a high scoring game – it wasn’t.

Against Dallas, Matt Grzelcyk led the team with 25:27 of ice time, Jeremy Lauzon played 24:52, and Connor Clifton played 18:53 in his NHL debut. Despite seeing increased roles, these guys did not look out of place. Connor Clifton racked up nine penalty minutes, in part thanks to dropping Stars veteran centerman Jason Spezza in a fight. When it comes to the physical part of hockey, Clifton doesn’t seem to mind getting amongst it. Jakub Zboril, who also made his debut, looked fairly solid overall in limited ice time.

Losing 1-0 in overtime is understandably frustrating, but it certainly wasn’t because of a lack of defensive presence and goaltending. Patrice Bergeron was banged up in the loss and was eventually sent back to Boston for evaluation, causing more lineup shifting in Arizona. Torey Krug emphasized the need to just power through and adapt to the injuries with a next-man-up mentality. His role in the team’s success cannot be overstated, as he filled his role as a puck-moving defender very well and logged over 22 minutes of ice time in both games.

Injuries were a theme this weekend as Arizona’s defensive core was missing Jakob Chychrun, Jason Demers, and Alex Goligoski against the Bruins last night. In a game that saw two-thirds of its goal scoring come in the first three minutes, both from the Bruins, playing sound defense was critical on both sides. Brad Richardson cut the deficit to one around the halfway point of the second period, but the defense stood tall in front of Jaroslav Halak in his 32-save win.

Jakub Zboril looked solid again in limited ice time, and Grzelcyk, Lauzon, and Clifton held it down in increased roles, all logging over 20 minutes of ice time. Without the sound defense provided, this game could have been ugly, as the Coyotes outshot the Bruins 33-23, and won 66 percent of their faceoffs. It’s safe to say that Patrice Bergeron’s absence had an impact on their success on the dot. Bergeron holds the second most faceoff wins in the league with 243, behind Jordan Staal’s 249, and the 15th best faceoff wins percentage at 55.7 percent.

This play by Jeremy Lauzon shines in a weekend where he had a heavy weight to carry on his shoulders, and he did.

Additionally, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored his first NHL goal, and Jake DeBrusk got on the board yet again. DeBrusk has five goals and six points in his last six games. With these injuries, the Bruins can only hope that they can get on the board more than they did this weekend and that their defensive core can continue to step up in the absence of key pieces.

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Ride The Roller Coaster That Is Your 2018/19 Boston Bruins

March and April Are Going to Test the Bruins( Photo Credit: CausewayCrowd.com )

By: Tyler Putt | Follow Me On Twitter @MrBeanTown

It’s November 15th, 2018 and it is no more clear today than it was on October 3rd, 2018, exactly who your 2018/19 Bruins are. Coming off an impressive weekend sweep which saw the Bruins take care of Toronto and Vegas, at home, by a combined score of 9-2, plenty of fans are hopping back on the hype train. These are the same fans that unceremoniously hopped off this very same train 4 short days ago when Boston was handed an 8-5 drubbing by the Vancouver Canucks.

So, which team are they? Are they the team beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 or the team losing to Vancouver 8-5? My answer is; both. Let me explain why…

The Good:

Image result for marchand bergeron pastrnak(Photo Credit: Sportsnet)

Let’s start with the REAL GOOD. Bergeron, Pastrnak, Marchand. I could leave by only saying those 3 names and wouldn’t even need to explain myself any further. This is the best line in hockey. Period. It’s what Bruins fans have come to expect out of this trio, with a combined 68 points in only 17 games it’s fair to say they are the biggest reason this team sits with a 10-5-2 record and sitting in 3rd place in the stacked Atlantic division.

Jaroslav Halak. I will be the first to admit I was only lukewarm about his signing when it was announced back on July 1st, and the Bruins ponied up $2.75 Million a year over 2 years for a stable backup to starter Tuukka Rask. Well, I was wrong. Halak is currently sitting second in the league in both GAA (1.77) and Save Percentage (.945) and was incremental in this weekend’s successful homestand where he saved 77 out of 79 shots in a 27-hour time frame. Even with “starter” Tuukka Rask due to return to the team this week I think it is safe to say that Halak has earned the chance to be the number one netminder in Boston for now.

Brandon Carlo. We know he isn’t on this list for his goal-scoring prowess as the last time he put the puck in the back of the net was back against the New Jersey Devils on March 4th, 2017! Yes, that is a current streak of 111 games, which is coincidentally also the longest streak in the NHL for consecutive games played without a goal, but I digress. What Carlo has lost in goals, he has more than made up in progression. Carlo is logging over 21 minutes per game, which includes over 3 minutes per game shorthanded, which is second only to Captain Zdeno Chara. Carlo has gotten more confidence in his game, his snarl in front of the net is back, and he seems to be understanding the game better this year. Hopefully, these are signs to come for Carlo as the season progresses and hopefully, he can stay healthy for the duration.

The Bad:

Image result for Tuukka Rask goal(Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

Tuukka Rask. I am one of the worlds biggest Rask apologists and one of his biggest fans. We know he currently has something going on outside the hockey world that he is dealing with and, of course, wish him the best; but, it doesn’t change the fact that he has not been at his best this year.  After 8 games Rask sits at 4-4 with a 3.05 GAA and a .901 Save Percentage which is a far cry from his career numbers of 2.27 GAA and a .922 Save Percentage. Ultimately, the concerning part of Rask’s play is that he doesn’t seem to be battling or seeing the puck and, in turn, not giving his team a chance to win on a nightly basis. We all hope that his time away from the team is nothing too serious and he comes back healthy and in the right state of mind.

David Backes. Oh, David! The 6 million dollar man (until 2021) is just plain-ole-strugglin’. After 12 games this year, Backes has a total of (checks notes…) zero points. Yes, you read that correctly, ZERO points. Playing over 13 minutes per game, he just hasn’t been able to contribute on the scoreboard and has subsequently been moved to the 4th line by coach Bruce Cassidy where he seemed to, at this time, be a better fit. 4th line duties are hopefully a short-term solution for Backes to find his game, as 6 million per year on the 4th line is a hard pill to swallow over the next few years.

The Ugly:

bruins-lightning-e1525329528213(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Secondary Scoring. Hello? Are you out there? Anyone? Bueller? Outside of Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Krejci the 5th leading scorer on the Bruins, with an earth-shattering 8 points, is defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Yes, our 5th highest point total after 17 games is 8 points, eight, ocho, huit, VIII… you get the point. No matter the language it all says “not good enough”. Although this weekends games showed an uptick in secondary scoring as we seen contributions on the score sheet from the likes of Bjork, Heinen, Kuraly & Nordstrom it isn’t nearly enough to help keep some pressure off the top line. Hopefully the play we witnessed from L3 of Heinen – JFK – Bjork is something that can be sustained and built off as the season progresses to ease the pressure on the top line and help the young guns keep building on the confidence that is starting to shine through.

Injuries. The Boston Bruins with injuries? What!! Just another season where the Bruins have to buckle down and show their resiliency to cope with injuries of key contributors. After 17 games this year the Bruins have already lost, for periods of time, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy, Urho Vaakanianen, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Tuukka Rask, Matt Grzelyck & David Backes. Noticeably these injuries are hurting the back end a lot more than the forwards, and it’s a telling feature when you have to roll out a 3rd defensive pairing of  Jeremy Lauzon and Steven Kampfer. Not a look that Coach Cassidy must like seeing for prolonged periods of time that is for certain. In total, we are already sitting at 49 man games lost due to injury, and we are only 17 games in. I guess, at least, the only way to look is up!

After the season-opening trouncing at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Washington Capitals, I told you this team would be 10-5-2 after 17 games with a differential of +12 most of you, if not all, would have taken that and ran. The thing is this is still a team with a lot of improvements to make, a lot of warts to heal and a lot of injuries to overcome, but, it is a team with the tremendous potential to make a serious push this year. As we go through the season, remember, a roller coaster ride has both highs and lows, twists and turns, and the occasional bout of nausea but all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride!

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

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