Bruins Game 44 Preview: Washington Capitals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Sports Images)

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

The Bruins are rolling and tonight, the team will look to continue their hot streak against the Washington Capitals in Boston. With wins in five consecutive games for Boston, the Bruins have vaulted themselves to a divisional playoff spot, overtaking the Buffalo Sabres who the B’s have defeated two times in the last two weeks. Boston now enters this game with a 25-14-4 record (54 points) and have a two-point lead on Buffalo (52 points) and a three-point cushion on the Canadiens, who they meet on Monday.

The Washington Capitals are on a winning streak as well – winning their last two games against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Prior to that though, the Capitals lost three consecutive games to the Predators, Blues, and Stars. Heading into the game, the Caps lead the always-competitive Metropolitan division with a 26-14-2 record (56 points). The Penguins (54 points) and Blue Jackets (51 points) are on their tails and the Islanders (50 points) are out of a playoff spot, looking to get back in.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 13-6-2 2.36 GAA .926 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 6-4 win vs CGY

WSH: Braden Holtby 16-10-2 2.89 GAA .910 SV% Last Game: 23 Saves in 3-2 vs DET

Who’s Hot

Patrice Bergeron has always been a good player in the NHL, but lately, he has been a really great player. In the win over Minnesota, Bergeron scored a goal and added two assists for a three-point night, his third multi-point game in his last four outings. The 33-year-old centre now has 14-24-38 totals in only 27 games this season. His 1.41 points-per-game is the sixth best in the league.

Like Bergeron, the rest of the Bruins top line has had a great last few games. Brad Marchand also had three points over the Wild, scoring once and adding a pair of assists as well. Marchand had a two-goal night against the Flames on January 3rd as well. Marchand is catching up to Pastrnak for the team’s lead in points as he now possesses 16-31-47 totals in 42 contests this year.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has had a slow season as we pass over the halfway mark of the 2018-19 campaign, but his tides may be changing. In the 5-3 victory over the Flyers, Vrana scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in the second period. Jakub’s primary assist helped open the scoring on Tom Wilson’s goal in the first frame.

NHL bad-guy Tom Wilson has thirteen goals, eight assists and twenty-one points in only 23 games this season and has scored goals in each of his last two games. Expected to get first line time with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, the Capitals would like another solid game with some scoring from Wilson tonight against a tough Bruins team.

Michal Kempny at 28-years-old has become one of the top defensemen on Washington’s active roster and he is scheduled to get another game on the top pairing alongside of John Carlson. Kempny has 5-10-25 totals along with an outstanding +25 rating – a statistic that he ranks fifth in the entire league on. He is currently averaging a career-high 19:21 minutes per game this season.

Who’s Not

Bruins forward Ryan Donato has not been good this year – a disappointing reality for many Bruins fans hoping for a solid campaign after he put up nine points in twelve games at the tail end of last season. In twenty-nine games with Boston in 2018-19, Donato has only five goals and eight points with a -10 rating – the worst +/- rating on the team.

Nicklas Backstrom is still over a point-per-game on the season so far, but with zero points in the last three games and a -2 rating, he needs to be better. In order for Washington to hold that top spot in the Metro, they need him to be the play-making star that the league knows him as.

Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson has been skating with Heinen and Donato on the Bruins third-line, but with the success of Kuraly-Acciari-Wagner line, that youngsters line has been demoted to the fourth line when it comes to high-pressure situations. Forsbacka Karlsson has not helped that this season. In twenty-two games, he has three goals, three assists for six points and a -2 rating.

Bruins vs Capitals Outlook

The Bruins get yet another chance at the defending Stanley Cup Champions after that blowout 7-0 loss to the Capitals on opening night back in October. Without a doubt, Boston needs to be on top of their game defensively to win this game. The Bruins have not beat Washington since March 29th, 2014 (thirteen games). Boston has struggled with the goal-scoring capabilities of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom alike.

For Washington – put pucks on the net – simple. Jaroslav Halak will be starting in goal for Boston and he is coming off of a win over the Flames, where he allowed four goals on thirty-seven shots. A few of the goals scored against him were questionable and you have to wonder if that remains on his mind heading into tonight’s game. The Caps need to build up the offence and fire shots on Halak to score a few goals early and often. Worked back in October, may work again now.

Another interesting story-line for the game is the speciality teams. The Bruins are near the top of the league in power-play success rate (3rd best with 28.5% success) and penalty-kill (11th best with 81.1% success). Boston has been perfect while short-handed in 2019, killing off all twelve penalties in the four games.

Washington, on the other hand, is above average on the man-advantage (10th best with 21.5% success), but the penalty-kill is sub-par (23rd worst with 78% success).

Boston is only one of four teams with zero losses in the 2019 calendar year and will look to extend their winning streak to six games. Right now, their five-straight are tied for second-longest active winning streaks, tied with the Hurricanes and behind the Vegas Golden Knights (7 wins). Below are the Boston Bruins practice lines for yesterday (Jan. 9th).

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Minnesota: 1/8/19

Image result for Bruins TD Garden 2018

(Photo Credit: Paul Rutherford – USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Minnesota Wild

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

Donato – JFK – Heinen

Defense

Chara – Carlo

Krug – Moore

Grzelcyk – Miller

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Minnesota’s Lineup

Forwards

Greenway – Staal – Granlund

Parise – Coyle – Kunin

Zucker – Koivu – Niederreiter

Hendricks – Eriksson Ek – Foligno

Defense

Suter – Spurgeon

Brodin – Pateryn

Seeler – Prosser

Goalies

Stalock

Dubnyk

First Period

The Minnesota Wild came into this one on the second half of a back-to-back, so it was fair to expect some tired legs for at least part of the game. The Bruins came in winners of their last four games. The Kuraly line started for the Bruins, opposed by the Koivu line for Minnesota. Minnesota’s sluggishness due to the quick turnaround showed early on.

After a back-and-forth start, Danton Heinen redirected John Moore’s shot from the point past Stalock and in to give the Bruins the early lead just 5:23 into the period. Heinen’s goal marked his fifth of the year, assisted by Moore (6), and Krug (23).

Not too long after, Zdeno Chara somehow tossed the 6-foot-6, sub 200 pound Minnesota winger Jordan Greenway like a sack of potatoes and took an interference penalty – giving Minnesota an opportunity to even things up. One may think it’s hard to do that to someone as big as Greenway, but sometimes being 6-foot-9 like Chara comes in handy. The penalty was successfully killed off by the Bruins.

John Moore stayed amongst the offense when he kept the puck in along the wall to the point where the puck found Patrice Bergeron for an indirect pass, and then the backboards where it was deposited into the net by Brad Marchand. The goal marked Marchand’s 16th of the year, Moore’s seventh assist of the season and second of the game, and Patrice Bergeron’s 23rd assist. 2-0 Bruins with 8:31 to go.

Tuukka Rask preserved the two-goal lead with an excellent save on Eric Staal with speed. Shortly after that, Kevan Miller went to the box for holding.

With 34 seconds left on the Wild power play, Staal made it 4-on-4 when he went off for tripping Rask. The Bruins continued the offensive trend when Bergeron sent a shot wide, where it was intentionally deflected off Jake DeBrusk’s chest and in, 3-0 Bruins with 45 seconds left in the period. The goal marked DeBrusk’s 14th of the season, Bergeron’s second assist of the game and 24th of the season, and Brad Marchand’s 30th assist.

In a dominant, highlight-filled first period for the Bruins, they outshot the Wild 15-6. Momentum was clearly in their favor heading into the second period.

Score: 3-0 Boston

Second Period

Rask was nearly fooled on a redirect by Luke Kunin that nearly found its way through his five-hole, but no dice for Kunin and the Wild. The start of this one was very similar to that of the first period. After that chance, went off for two minutes thanks to a tripping penalty for Zach Parise.

The dominance continued when Bergeron got on the board early in the power play off of a redirection off of his skate. It was 4-0 Bruins thanks to Bergeron’s 14th goal of the season, assisted by Marchand (31), and Krug (24), both their second assists of the game.

Moore went to the box around the halfway point of the period for burying Kunin into the Bruins net – can’t do that. Two minutes for interference for Moore, giving Minnesota a chance to get back into this one to some degree. They didn’t convert. Despite not finding the back of the net, the shots were 10-3 Minnesota 13 minutes into the period, so the first period served as a wake-up call to some degree. Rask had yet another very sound period in the crease.

Despite a solid period from the Wild, the advantage still remained heavily in favor of the Bruins on the scoreboard. The shots were 12-5 Wild, decreasing the shot margin to just 20-18 in favor of the Bruins.

Score: 4-0 Boston

Third Period

The game got progressively quieter after the first period. Not even an empty-netter, just the cap on a 24-save shutout for Rask. The Bruins dominated most of the game and the scoreboard shows it. The shots in the final frame were 7-6 Bruins and 27-24 overall.

That emphatic win makes it five straight for the Bruins. Next up are the Washington Capitals at TD Garden at 7 PM ET on Thursday.

Final Score: 4-0 Boston

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Boston Bruins: Halfway Point Of 2018-19 Season

Bruins-Winter-Classic.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

Careful, did you miss it? If you blinked, you may have missed the first half of the 2018-19 NHL season for the Boston Bruins. No, it was not that fast, but it sure went by quickly. Without a doubt, this season has been an interesting one and it is only going to get more interesting from here on out. With Thursday’s win over the Calgary Flames, the Bruins have passed the halfway point of the season – that being their 41st game of 82 on the year.

Individual Statistics

The Boston Bruins have some great players on the roster, but also some players that have been slacking off on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Below are the player totals for nearly every player that has played a single game on the Bruins roster before the Sabres game on Saturday.

Forwards:

  • David Pastrnak – 41GP – 25-27-52 +3 Rating – Leads team in Goals & Points 
  • Brad Marchand – 40GP – 15-29-44 +6 Rating – Leads team in Assists 
  • Patrice Bergeron – 25GP – 13-22-35 +7 Rating – Leads Forwards in +/-
  • David Krejci – 41GP – 7-26-33 -2 Rating
  • Jake DeBrusk – 32GP – 13-3-36 -6 Rating
  • Sean Kuraly – 40GP – 4-6-10 +3 Rating
  • Danton Heinen – 39GP – 4-6-10 +2 Rating
  • David Backes – 33GP – 3-7-10 -5 Rating
  • Ryan Donato – 27GP – 5-3-8 -11 Rating
  • Joakim Nordstrom – 39GP – 5-2-7 -4 Rating
  • Chris Wagner – 38GP – 4-3-7 -2 Rating
  • Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson – 20GP – 3-3-6 -3 Rating
  • Colby Cave – 20GP – 1-4-5 -1 Rating
  • Noel Acciari – 34GP – 1-1-2 -7 Rating
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PHOTO CREDITS: (tsn.ca)

Defence:

  • Torey Krug – 30GP – 4-22-26 -9 Rating
  • Matt Grzelcyk – 39GP – 1-11-12 +5 Rating
  • Charlie McAvoy – 17GP – 1-10-11 +4 Rating
  • John Moore – 38GP – 2-5-7 -3 Rating
  • Zdeno Chara – 22GP – 3-1-4 +3 Rating
  • Steven Kampfer – 25GP – 2-1-3 -6 Rating
  • Brandon Carlo – 32GP – 1-2-3 +1 Rating
  • Kevan Miller – 15GP 0-3-3 +8 Rating
  • Jeremy Lauzon – 15GP – 1-0-0 -1 Rating

These are extremely basic when it comes to statistics but they do provide some facts as to how the Bruins have been doing when it comes to individual scoring. With only twenty-five games played, Patrice Bergeron is still over a point-per-game by a considerable amount and he is currently on pace for ninety-two points (if my math is indeed correct), which will clearly drop. The always-Selke candidate leads the forward group in the +/- rating and has a 14-10 takeaway-to-giveaway ratio, keeping up that defensive play.

Pastrnak and Marchand have continued to dominate, even with a slow spell from Marchand earlier in the season. The first line always seems to fall back together, even when Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tries to mix up the lines to spread out the scoring. Speaking about scoring depth, the Bruins have three players with ten points, all of which have played in over thirty games this season.

The Bruins need help from the bottom three lines, even DeBrusk and Krejci need to be more consistent when scoring goals. DeBrusk has gone on cold stretches, but he can bounce back with a two-goal game like he did against Calgary. With another top-six winger, Boston can become a true threat offensively in the Eastern Conference.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES)

On the defensive core, the Bruins should not have that many players with a game played. That list would also include Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton, but they all played less than ten games so far. Twelve defencemen from October to January and yet the Bruins have still been decent on the backend.

Goaltending:

  • Tuukka Rask – 20GP – 19GS – 10-8-2 – 2.63 GAA – .914 SV%
  • Jaroslav Halak – 23GP – 22GS – 13-6-2 – 2.36 GAA – .926 SV%

There have been some bad games, but overall, the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been solid this season. Halak is fourth in the NHL for best save percentage among goalies with a minimum of fourteen games played and his role as a backup has led to a new tandem in the Bruins crease. Cassidy has gone back-and-forth with who gets the starting job and that is great, but he is most likely looking for one of them to step out and claim the starting job heading into the postseason.

Team Statistics

As of January 4th, 2019, the Bruins are the eleventh best team in the National Hockey League with fifty points on the season. Prior to the game against the Sabres, Boston is only four points away from being tied with the Calgary Flames for second-best in the entire NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning are several strides ahead of the pack, leading the NHL with a 32-7-2 record, good for 66 points so far. Coincidentally, the Bruins are also the eleventh-oldest team in the league, with an average team age of 28.2. The 11th youngest team? The Tampa Bay Lightning.

As mentioned already, the Boston Bruins’ depth scoring has almost been non-existent for the majority of the season and that is on display when you take a browse on the team stats. The Bruins have scored the fifth-least amount of even-strength goals in the league, scoring only 81 times 5-on-5. On the flip side, the Bruins have allowed the second-least amount of 5-on-5 goals, only 76. That makes for a +5 goal differential while at even-strength.

The speciality teams have been possibly the best strength for Boston and may just be the main reason as to why Boston is in the position they are in within the league standings. Boston has thirty-seven goals on the power-play, fourth-most in the NHL, scoring those goals on a 27.82% efficiency. Bruins’ David Pastrnak leads the league for most goals on the PP with twelve so far this year. He is able to use the extra man brilliantly and use it to score goals. On the power-play, however, the B’s are not the best defensively, allowing a league-high nine shorthanded goals.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Boston’s penalty-kill is within the top half of the league, currently sitting at just over an 80% success rate. Unfortunately, the shorthanded goals have not come for the Bruins, only scoring one SH goal that came back on October 4th by Patrice Bergeron. Obviously, shorthanded tallies are not expected nor necessarily required but when you allow the most goals in that category in the entire league, you would like a few in return on other teams.

Standings Race

Following a brief time in the second Wild Card position, the Bruins have battled back to take sole possession of third place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. At the current moment, the Bruins are in a game against the Buffalo Sabres and that game will decide who holds on to that spot for the time being.

A 23-14-4 record in January is not fantastic but for an injury-riddled team like the Bruins, it is very much acceptable. Boston will need to step up their game and that may end up including a trade for another scoring forward. For more on the Standings Race in the Atlantic Division for the Bruins, make sure to stay tuned for an article by Black N’ Gold writer, Evan Michael (@00EvanMichael on Twitter).

In response to this article, I asked my friends on Twitter about their opinions regarding the Bruins 2018-19 season so far.

Do you agree with the poll results? What was good/bad about the first half of the season for the Boston Bruins and what needs to change as the race for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs truly begin? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

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Bruins Game 42 Preview: Buffalo Sabres

Image result for bruins sabres(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Bruins enter tonight’s tilt against division rival Buffalo on a nice little 2019 winning streak, starting of course with their Winter Classic victory over the beleaguered Blackhawks on New Year’s Day and recently a grind-it-out “W” over a fittingly on-fire Flames team.

The Sabres have also been playing well as of late and are currently tied with the B’s in points (50) after the official midway mark of the season. Since the Bruins have more ROW, they currently occupy the No. 3 seed — an all-important playoff seed — in the Atlantic Division. So, you can rightfully assume this match-up has a lot riding on it for both the Black N’ Gold and Gold N’ Blue.

Who’s Hot:

For the Bruins, their top line of top players has truly been “the tops” as Mel Torme used to sing. And lots of people have been singing their praises since the B’s last beat Buffalo to cap off the final game of 2018 in style… with a thrilling 3-2 OT win. But outside of the multiple-point games from Bergy, March & Pasta since then, another B’s player making the most of his minutes has been Sean Kuraly, as evidenced by his consecutive GWG goals during this recent streak of solid winning play:

For the Sabres, look no further than left-winger Jeff Skinner, currently second to the now-injured Jack Eichel with 41 points in 41 games while also leading the team with 28 goals, two of which came during his previous game against Florida.

Who’s Not:

To say David Backes has been cold as ice would be unfair since he’s missed the last three games due to a suspension. But it’s because of that suspension that he’s made this list, putting the B’s second & third line pairings (heck, even the 4th line) into a bit of a flux. However, the team has won all three games since he’s been out of the line-up so will his return against the Sabres scuttle the B’s momentum? We’ll have to wait and see (at least linemate Jake Debrusk is excited to have him back).

In Buffalo, the team’s role players (the Sobotka’s, Sheary’s & Pominville’s) really need to pick up the pace against big conference & divisional teams like the Bruins. The Sabres secondary scoring — much like the B’s — has been inconsistent at best, resulting in Buffalo losing a pair of tight contests to the Rangers & B’s recently. These are 4-point games when you’re fighting for your playoff positioning so expect these Sabres to come out strong and with purpose.

How will the final match-up of the season between the B’s and Sabres play out, with the Bruins currently owning a 2-1 record? I’m predicting another down-to-the-wire finish with timely saves (Rask vs. Ullmark in net), some skillful PP goals and perhaps even another clutch OT performance. As mentioned above, with “4 points” on the line, 3rd place in the Atlantic on the line, and a playoff seed on the line, there’s a lot to play for at TG Garden tonight!

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New Year’s Resolution For All Bruins Players

(Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

New Year, new me, right? It’s that time of year where we all get those year-long gym memberships and give up in February. I thought it would be a cool idea to take a look at what each player might be looking to improve in the New Year. If you want to read a great piece by BNG writer Evan Michael about the New Year’s resolutions for the Bruins as a whole, check that out here! 

Patrice Bergeron– Health. We all know Bergeron is a warrior and will play through almost anything but man has his body taken a toll. Bergeron is a close to a perfect man as anyone in the world, all he can wish is to stay healthy.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Colby Cave– A true Bruin moment. Cave has gotten his fair share of hate this season from the Bruins’ faithful, while some Bruins (Debrusk etc) have become fan favorites because of goals, blocked shots, fights and other moments. It would be great for Cave to have a big moment like that to cement himself a role with the team and the fans.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson– A consistent top 9 spot. It’s been an up and down year for JFK, he was probably the front-runner to take the vacant third line center spot in pre-season but failed to take that spot. After starting the year in Providence, he was given a shot with the big club and was on and off. It seems Cassidy has liked what the young Swede has done recently as he’s giving him a shot on the 2nd line for the Winter Classic. 

David Krejci– Be able to play with any winger. We know what Krejci can do with great wingers, he played incredible when filling in for Bergeron on the top line. Now it’s time for Krejci to show that he can play great with whatever winger he’s put on a line with.

( Photo Credit:  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

Sean Kuraly– Another huge goal to showcase the Kura-leap. You just love to see it.

Noel Acciari– A consistent role on the 4th line. While he brings his physicality every game, the offense is rarely there. With a healthy team, I think he should always be the odd man out if he can get more ice time, that will be a successful 2019 for Acciari.

David Backes– A great performance in the playoffs. In his time with St. Louis, Backes excelled in the playoffs. He’s the hard-nosed player everybody wants to have on their team. A couple of big goals, big hits, and big fights in the playoffs would be great for Backes and the Bruins.

Jake DeBrusk– No more concussions. The last thing any young player wants is a history of head injuries. Here’s to hoping DeBrusk can dial in and stay healthy for the rest of the year (and his career.)

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe )

Ryan Donato– Find a way into the top 6, stay there, and score goals. We’ve all seen what Donato can do, he’s had a lot of moments where he looks like a bonafide 30 goal scorer, we’ve also seen moments where he seems lost and weak on the puck. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy doesn’t seem to have a ton of faith in the kid but if he gets a shot with 46 or 37, he needs to take it and run.

Danton Heinen– Same as Colby Cave, a true Bruin moment. He was a great surprise last season but the start of the 2018 has been a mess for Heinen. He’s been all over the lineup but has yet to have a big moment for the Bruins, look for that to happen in the new year.

Brad Marchand– No more suspensions. He can still be a goal scoring pest without dishing out any elbows or slew-foots. As long as he sticks to getting points and licking, he’ll be good to go.

Joakim Nordstrom– A little more luck. Nordstrom is one Bruin that always gives his all every single shift he’s out there. There’s not much to dislike with what he brings to the table, maybe a couple more bounces go his way and his great season will start showing up on the stat sheet.

David Pastrnak– There’s not much more a 22-year-old point per game player could wish for, maybe a Rocket Richard?

( Mandatory Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

Chris Wagner– For him and his line to become the new Merlot Line. That is a high task as the trio of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille will go down in Bruins history but I see a lot of that line in Wagner.

Brandon Carlo– Get a little bit tougher. Carlo has looked great this year, I see a lot more tenacity and toughness out of him than the past. He needs to keep using his 6’5 frame and continue to amp up the grit in his game.

Zdeno Chara– Another picture just like the one above. There’s not much more the man can do, going out on top would be an incredible way to end his career.

Matt Grzelcyk– To get consistent top 4 minutes like he deserves. He’s been the unsung hero for the Bruins this season. I don’t know how many times I’ve been “wowed” by how much ice time he can take and his vision on defense may be the best on the team, he deserves a lot more recognition than he gets and a spot in the top 4 would be well deserved.

Steven Kampfer– A game in the playoffs. He’s done above and beyond what most thought he would bring to the team. A cherry on the top would be to find his way into the lineup in the playoffs and play well.

Torey Krug– Health in the playoffs. The theme of health continues. Krug had a great first rookie playoff but has been banged up in the past two seasons. A healthy postseason would be huge for the offensive D-man.

( Photo Credit: ESPN.com )

Charlie McAvoy– HEALTH, he has been banged up all year. For the Bruins to succeed (and for McAvoy to get paid this summer) the young defenseman needs to stay healthy for the rest of the season. He’s an important member of the defensive core and these first few years of his career are huge in his development as an NHL player.

Kevan Miller– No more injuries. As the most physical guy on the Bruins, he’s taken a lot. He’s improved his puck skills a ton as well, everything you want in your number six defenseman he just needs to stay healthy.

John Moore– To stay in the lineup. I think Moore should be the odd man out when every Bruin is healthy but he has proven he can do a lot on the back-end. We’ve yet to see a fully healthy team so Moore should do a little more (haha) than he has been to keep a spot in the top six.

Jaroslav Halak– Start a playoff game. How great for Halak would it be to come into a backup role and play so well that he’s able to steal a start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from a bonafide starter like Tuukka Rask

Tuukka Rask– Win a Stanley Cup, as the starter. There’s not much more Rask can do to shut up all of his haters, this would certainly do the trick.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Happy New Year to all!!!

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant 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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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Winter Classic: Boston vs Chicago: 01/01/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (@nhlbruins on Twitter)

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

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, Indiana, USA

Home: Chicago Blackhawks (15-20-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (21-14-4)

The 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic is finally upon us. The Bruins are coming into the New Year’s Day outdoor game after a 2-1 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Bruins and a win over Chicago in the Notre Dame Stadium would help Boston continue that momentum.

Boston’s opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks have been on fire as of late, winning five of their last six games and have recorded a point in seven of their last nine. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is riding a seven-game point streak and was recently awarded the NHL’s First Star of the Week.

Bruins Gameday Lineup

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced earlier today that forward Ryan Donato and defenseman Steven Kampfer are the scratches for the Bruins in today’s game. Defenceman Charlie McAvoy is also out of the lineup with a lower-body injury that is believed to have been suffered against the Carolina Hurricanes on December 23rd. Forward Brad Marchand returns to the lineup as well.

First Period:

Bruins started the pressure immediately with several really good attacks that were initiated by Bruins defencemen. Kevan Miller stole the puck in the neutral zone off of a poor breakout pass by the Blackhawks then found Krejci alone on a partial breakaway. Krejci went forehand-backhand but stopped by Cam Ward. Torey Krug also had a good chance, good start for Boston.

Early on, the ice seems to be in great condition. For outdoor games, it is always a concern that the ice may be rough, making it harder to control the puck and make good passes. It is quite possible that the ice crews are getting better at the ice-making due to the number of Winter Classics and outdoor games in recent years.

On the NHL on NBC broadcast, it is confirmed that today’s attendance marks the second-largest crowd in Winter Classic history, behind only the 105,000+ people that attended the 2014 Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.

On a delayed penalty call on Brandon Carlo just nearly six minutes into the game, Jonathan Toews makes a nice spin pass, creating a chance that Rask makes a big pad save. Bruins to the penalty-kill for a holding call on Carlo. Boston’s penalty-kill ranks seventeenth in the NHL before the game, with a 79.1% success rate. Bruins only allow one shot against and the penalty is killed off.

The first goal came with 11:30 left in the first. A David Krejci turnover turns into a goal for Brandon Perlini. Torey Krug’s stick was lifted behind Tuukka Rask and no one was on Perlini who had an open shot on Rask. Bruins need better coverage as that was hard to watch. Blackhawks make it one-to-nothing at Notre Dame.

Blackhawks continued to get good opportunities in the second half of the opening period. On a nice breakout play, the Bruins left d-man Connor Murphy all alone by the top of the faceoff circle, but Murphy’s wrist-shot rings off the pipe. Bruins were that close to being down two goals. On the turnaround, Joakim Nordstrom is tripped up by Artem Anisimov and the B’s are to the power-play 7:55 in.

On the man-advantage, David Pastrnak picks up the puck from Patrice Bergeron in the slot, waits, then fires it past Cam Ward to tie the game at one apiece with about seven minutes left to trail. Bergeron with the primary assist on Pastrnak’s twenty-fourth goal of the season.

Bruins top line seems to be thriving as usual as Brad Marchand has several good shots on Ward off of the rush. This is Marchand’s first career Winter Classic as he was in the middle of a three-game suspension back in the 2016 Winter Classic against the Canadiens. It is evident that he wants a goal today.

With 2:57 left to tick away in the first, Matt Grzelcyk is called on a high-sticking minor and the Bruins go to their second penalty-kill of the day. First one was successful and this second one was solid as well, killing it off successfully. Alex DeBrincat had the best chance on the Hawks’ man-advantage as he hit the back of Brandon Carlo’s leg.

David Pastrnak is on fire today. With less than one minute to go, Krejci, Pastrnak, and DeBrusk worked together for a great pair of chances, including a great opportunity for Pasta all alone, but is stopped from a massive save by Ward. Off the ensuing faceoff, Patrick Kane is found alone on a breakaway, tried to go five-hole past Rask, but is shut down. Period ends there.

It was an entertaining period for both teams. Brad Marchand had two good shots, Pastrnak and DeBrusk each have three shots. Patrick Kane has four shots on Rask, including that final breakaway chance. The Bruins are playing decent hockey but a few defensive mistakes have either turned into a goal or came close.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 CHI: 12

Score: 1-1

Second Period

Chicago started off the second period with some good chances, the best of which was blocked by John Moore. While on defence, Sean Kuraly takes a hooking penalty on Chicago’s only goal scorer so far, Brandon Perlini and he goes to the box for two minutes. DeBrincat again has the best chance on Chicago’s power-play, a quick shot on Rask, but it’s stopped and the Bruins go 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill four minutes into the second period.

The physicality of the hockey game is increasing as Carlo and Chara each take shoves at Perlini. The Chicago forward is having a good game and seems to be everywhere on the ice so far today.

One of the biggest reoccurring errors of the Bruins so far has been the turnovers – especially off of the breakout passes by the blueliners. Boston has simply passed the puck to a player in the black Chicago sweater, giving them an in-tight chance on Rask. Tuukka has looked solid thus far, but Bruins need to help him out more with better, smarter passes.

With 8:36 left, the Blackhawks break the tie once again. Erik Gustafsson fires a shot for a deflection as he has done numerous times already today and it gets deflected by Dominik Kahun, beating Rask. Bruins have not had the best period, not getting many chances offensively and they have not seemed all there defensively either.

Bruins get a bit of zone time in the Blackhawks end, but no real good chances come about from it. The majority of the shots Boston took on the shift were point shots that either were blocked or partially blocked before they reached Cam Ward. Cassidy has been trying Pastrnak with DeBrusk and Krejci in this game as well, but Boston is still struggling to get truly good offence.

17:57 into the period, Erik Gustafsson is called on a roughing penalty and the Bruins go to their second power-play of the game. Boston allowed a shorthanded breakaway but was shut down by Patrice Bergeron. Right back in Chicago’s end, Patrice Bergeron gets the backhand right in front of Ward and ties the game at two. Assists go to Pastrnak (26) and Krug (20).

Then with only 9.5 seconds remaining, Matt Grzelcyk takes his second penalty of the game – a hooking minor on Patrick Kane. Period ends, but Boston needs to come out with more aggression offensively in the third. They will be on the penalty-kill for the first 1:50 of the final regulation period.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 24 CHI: 28

Score: 2-2

Third Period

During the penalty-kill to begin the period, Patrick Kane gets his stick up high on Kevan Miller, sending the game to 4-on-4 for thirty seconds, followed by a 1:30 Bruins power-play. On the 4-on-4, Kevan Miller once again draws a penalty, a tripping minor against Anisimov. Bruins have 1:12 of 5-on-3 time.

The Bruins failed to score on either one of the penalties and the game returns 5-on-5. Boston could not make tape-to-tape passes and the Hawks cleared when able to. Bruins are now 2-for-4 on the man-advantage today. About five minutes into the period, Bruins draw another play, a hooking call on Gustav Forsling. B’s are moving their feet and it’s drawing penalties against Chicago.

Chicago’s penalty-kill has improved, clearly, since the second intermission as they kill off another Bruins power-play in this third period. Some decent chances but Cam Ward has been great between the posts for Chicago.

Boston is in the midst of their best period of the game in my opinion. Great control in the Blackhawks’ zone, creating chances while shutting down any really good chances against. The Bruins have been quite close to scoring, but at times, so have the Hawks. 2-2 with 11:19 to go.

Call him clutch because Sean Kuraly scores with 9:40 left in the third off a rebound shot. The Blackhawks lost all coverage on the Bruins players, allowing Grzelcyk to fire a shot towards Ward. The puck bounces off of Chris Wagner in front and goes right on the stick of Kuraly and he buries it. Kuraly scored the game-winning goal against Buffalo on Saturday.

Between Kuraly’s goal and the next six minutes, the Bruins have done a great job keeping Chicago to the outside, forcing turnovers, then getting the puck out of the zone. A couple of nice opportunities for the Bruins to score again, including a 2-on-1 by DeBrusk and Krejci that was stopped by the Blackhawks lone d-man. Just over three minutes remaining in this Winter Classic.

Kuraly had a chance with 2:30 left on a breakaway bid, but Ward remains solid in the crease and stops the possible insurance marker. It has been a great game for the fourth line of Boston. With the empty-net for Chicago, Tuukka Rask has to make a big blocker stop while changing directions on a dime to keep the B’s ahead.

Bruins have tried to clear, but Chicago continues the pressure. Brandon Saad to Patrick Kane in front but Rask comes up huge with a big save. 39.2 seconds remain and every single fan is on the edge of their feet. On the delayed penalty against Chicago, Brad Marchand buries the empty-net goal, making it 4-2 Boston.

With that, the Bruins win their second Winter Classic 4-2, Hawks lose their fourth.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 36 CHI: 38

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 36 Saves, .947 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1 Rating, Key Faceoffs

3rd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – Game-Winning Goal, 5 Shots, +1 Rating

With the victory, the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 22-14-4. They are tied in points with the Sabres, who they overtake in standings only due to the Regulation plus Overtime Wins (ROW), in which Boston has three more. Up next, Bruins face the Calgary Flames (24-12-4) in Boston on Thursday. Scheduled puck drop for that game is 7pm EST.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant 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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Bruins Monthly Recap: December 2018

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

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

Another month down, another month to look ahead to. In this, the final month of 2018, the Boston Bruins performed without key players such as Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Jake DeBrusk to still remain in a playoff position as of their most recent win over the Buffalo Sabres on the 29th of December.

In this third instalment of Bruins Monthly Recap, we will take a closer look at the surprises, disappointments, and positives of the eleventh calendar month including the best performances, worst games, injury report, and finally, a prediction of the month to follow. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

The Good Games

In fourteen games this month, the Bruins finished with a record of 7-7-0, with two of those wins coming in the overtime session. Within the seven victories, the Bruins had some really solid outings and in this section, I’ll briefly highlight those victorious moments for the Bruins in the twelfth month of the year.

December 8th/18 – vs Toronto Maple Leafs

For the third time in two months, the two Original Six franchises whose rivalry has blossomed over the course of the past half-decade or so. In this Saturday night game vs the Maple Leafs in Boston, the Bruins walked away with a 6-3 win against a Leafs team that had Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Andersen in net, well for a time at least.

Boston scored four straight goals from the first period to the third from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, David Backes, Torey Krug, and Danton Heinen. Boston outshot Toronto 15-9 in the second period alone and seemed to have all control. After Travis Dermott’s goal made it 4-1, the B’s answered with goals from Krejci and Donato to extend the lead to 6-1. The Leafs added two more late but that would be it.

Brad Marchand and Torey Krug had three points, David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, and David Krejci all had two points and Jaroslav Halak made twenty-nine saves in the win. All around great performance for the Bruins without key players like Bergeron, DeBrusk, and Chara in the lineup.

December 17th/18 – vs Montreal Canadiens

Ah, the good old Montreal/Boston rivalry. It is rare to have a more successful night then when you defeat Montreal in the Bell Centre while scoring four goals and allowing none against. That’s what happened on December 17th in a 4-0 Bruins win over the Habs.

Joakim Nordstrom scored his fifth of the season, Colby Cave scored his first career NHL goal, David Krejci added his sixth of 2018-19, and Brad Marchand scored number eleven for four unanswered tallies past goaltender Carey Price. McAvoy and Pastrnak each had two-point nights while Jaroslav Halak stopped all twenty-two shots that faced him during the sixty regulation minutes.

The Bruins needed this win after two losses beforehand, making this one even sweeter, ending the losing streak and starting a new one that would last for the next two games.

December 22nd/18 – vs Nashville Predators

At the time, the Predators were near the top of the National Hockey League standings and were building momentum as they attempt to have another successful season. When the two teams met on the twenty-second of December, it was not supposed to be an easy game for either team, especially the Bruins.

However, off of the hands of four points (two goals, two assists) by Patrice Bergeron who returned to the lineup after a sternoclavicular/rib injury that kept him out of action for an extended amount of time. Bergeron’s linemates, Marchand and Pastrnak had three points of their own – leading the Bruins to a 5-2 win over Nashville in the TD Garden. In addition, Halak made twenty-eight saves, including fourteen in the second frame alone.

The Not-So-Good Games

It is expected that when you finish a calendar month with a .500 win percentage, you’re going to have some rough outings. Like other teams in that scenario, the Bruins had some rough games that they themselves may want to forget about. No real blowouts, but some poor overall team performances.

December 27th/18 – vs New Jersey Devils

Only two games ago, the Bruins had one of their worst games so far in the 2018-19 campaign. The Devils beat Boston by a final score of 5-2, which is not too bad all things considered, but the whole group seemed disoriented and failed to generate many offensive opportunities throughout the entirety of the three-period hockey game.

The opening Devils goal only twenty-five seconds into the game brought the momentum down immediately for Boston as both teams played their first game after the Holiday Break. New Jersey added another before the first intermission and scored three times in the final regulation frame to put out Boston.

Chris Wagner’s second-period goal and Patrice Bergeron’s third-period marker were the only two goals from Boston, but other than that, it was a lacklustre outing for the men in Black n Gold. Halak allowed four goals on thirty-two shots, not a terrible night for him, but could have been better most definitely.

December 4th/18 – vs Florida Panthers

The only thing worse than allowing five goals in a hockey game is when you allow five goals and score none for yourself. In only the second game of the month, the Bruins laid an egg against the divisional opponent, allowing four goals in the middle period and letting the Panthers win 5-0.

Mike Hoffman scored twice for Florida while Mike Matheson, Jonathon Huberdeau, and Evgenii Dadonov added the other three. Goalie Roberto Luongo stopped every single one of the thirty-three shots that the Bruins offence piled on him, making him look way younger than 39 years of age.

Individual Performances

Good: David Pastrnak – 4 Goals, 15 Assists, 19 Points in 14 Games

Nevermind good, this is great. Pastrnak once again took ahold of the Bruins offence and ran with it. Even zero points in four of the fourteen games this month did not slow down his production. Pastrnak was without Bergeron for the majority of the month but still managed to rack up the points with fellow countryman, David Krejci.

David is twelfth in the NHL for points and eighth in the NHL for most goals scored, six behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

Bad: Joakim Nordstrom – 14 Games Played, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, -7 Rating

Brought onto the Bruins in the 2018 offseason on a two-year contract worth $1 million per season, Joakim Nordstrom was supposed to add additional scoring to the offensive depth charts, but in December especially, Nordstrom has failed to do that. After a seven-game pointless streak to start the month, he scored in two consecutive games and has not scored for the last five games.

Somehow, Nordstrom has met his totals for last season, 5-2-7, in 37 fewer games. Joakim has three more goals than he had last year but with his lack of production lately, it is hard to understand why he remains in the lineup over some of the Providence Bruins players that are doing well this year.

Good: Patrice Bergeron – 4 Games Played, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 5 Points, +2 Rating

Bergeron only played four times in December, but his return from injury made a large impact on the Bruins roster. His four-point night against the Predators proved he was still in prime form and his linemates of Pastrnak and Marchand have benefited from his reemergence on the offensive core.

Patrice continues to be one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL today, even with his increasing age and the reoccurring injuries over the past few seasons. Hopefully, a healthy Bergeron can lead the Bruins once again to a successful second-half of the regular season and into the playoffs.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Bad: Jaroslav Halak – 4-3-0 Record, 0.916 SV%, 2.71 GAA

Those numbers are not terrible, but they are not at the same level as the Jaroslav Halak that played in November and October. Halak allowed three or more goals in a single game on four different occasions this month, including five goals against the Panthers. Halak did, however, record a shutout against the Canadiens on the 17th.

The not-great play of Halak could have been the main reason for Cassidy’s decision to start Tuukka Rask over him for the 2019 Winter Classic. Although Rask has a worse record with numbers slightly worse than Halak, with the win over Buffalo for Rask, Cassidy went with Tuukka.

Honourable Mentions:

Good: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk

Bad: David Backes, Noel Acciari, Tuukka Rask

Injury Report (As of December 31st)

D Charlie McAvoy – Lower-body – IR

The Bruins are healthy again, for now anyway. Only Charlie McAvoy is injured currently due to a blocked shot that isn’t healing the best. He will miss the Winter Classic. Brad Marchand has been day-to-day for the Bruins but is deemed good-to-go for the Bruins against Chicago. The injuries have been a huge blow for the team this year and to have some of these key players slowly return to the lineup, it is great to see.

January Games

Tuesday, Jan. 1st – vs Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic)

Thursday, Jan. 3rd – vs Calgary Flames

Saturday, Jan. 5th – vs Buffalo Sabres

Tuesday, Jan. 8th – vs Minnesota Wild

Thursday, Jan. 10th – vs Washington Capitals

Saturday, Jan. 12th-  at Toronto Maple Leafs

Monday, Jan. 14th – vs Montreal Canadiens

Wednesday, Jan. 16th – at Philadelphia Flyers

Thursday, Jan. 17th – vs St. Louis Blues

Saturday, Jan. 19th vs New York Rangers

Tuesday, Jan. 29th vs Winnipeg Jets

Thursday, Jan. 31st vs Philadelphia Flyers

The Boston Bruins have twelve games on the upcoming schedule to start of 2019, including nine games in the TD Garden. Boston’s week-long break takes place from January 20th to January 26th. With some big games against Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and of course, the Winter Classic game against Chicago, the Bruins will have their work cut out for them but it will make for some fun games for us fans to enjoy.

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

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

Can Bruins David Pastrnak Win The Rocket Richard Trophy?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo)

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

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, David Pastrnak is the best goal scorer on the Boston Bruins in 2018-19 and he will most likely retain that title for many years to come. With that in mind, how good of a goal scorer exactly is Pastrnak?

The National Hockey League has had the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy since 1999 and was first established at the end of the 1998-1999 season, where Teemu Selanne was awarded the trophy. The award was named after Richard, who spent the entirety of his eighteen-year NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens. “Rocket” was the first NHL player to reach the 500-goal milestone and was the first NHL player to hit 50 goals in a single season, doing so in only 50 games back in 1944-45.

For over a decade, the Rocket Richard Trophy has gone to one man seven times – Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. From the 2012-13 season to the 2015-16 season, Ovechkin won the trophy every single season, until Sidney Crosby broke that streak in 2016-17, only for Ovi to reclaim the trophy last season. Ovechkin’s best trophy-winning season was his 65 goals in 2007-08, the most by a winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AFP)

Since then, however, the winner of the trophy has scored less than fifty goals – Crosby with 44 and Ovechkin with 49 last year. In the history of the trophy, no Boston Bruin has ever won it. David Pastrnak is considered to be one of the best young scorers that the Bruins have had in recent memory, can he be the first Bruin to win the prestigious winner?

At the end of December 2018, Alex Ovechkin still leads the NHL in goals with 29 in 37 games played. Six goals behind him in seventh place, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. The 22-year-old winger is scoreless in his past three games (CAR, NJD, BUF) and if he scores a few times during that stretch, he could find himself within the top five for goals.

It is somewhat hard to look at the future of a hockey season when you are not even past the halfway point. In the past eighty-two regular season games dating back to the 2017-18 season, including Boston’s most recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, Pastrnak has scored 43 goals. In comparison to Ovechkin’s league-leading forty-nine tallies last season, Pastrnak would only be six goals away from leading the National Hockey League – the exact distance he is apart from the lead right now.

With that stat, it is fair to note that Pastrnak had some rough patches when it came to scoring goals last season. From December 14th, 2017 to January 2nd, 2018, Pastrnak failed to score a single goal in ten consecutive games. If only he scored on six of those, he would have tied Ovechkin’s tally from last year. Of course, that includes the 23 goals this year that Pasta has scored.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Images)

Already this season, the Bruins have struggled with injuries – including hard injuries to Pastrnak’s well-known linemates, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Although, when Marchand has been healthy, he has not been as effective at putting the puck in the back of the net, scoring only twelve times in thirty-eight games. On the flip side, Marchand leads the team for assists with twenty-nine helpers.

When the Bruins’ first line is fully healthy and they are clicking offensively, the numbers can truly skyrocket. Bergeron already has a passer’s touch and if Marchand continues to have the vision to send the rubber to the piece of tape on Pastrnak’s stick, Pastrnak can rake in the goal numbers.

Is it possible for David Pastrnak to score more goals than any other player in the entire National Hockey League? Of course, it is. The Bruins are finally going to have a healthy roster, *knocks on wood* and can have the opportunity to finally gain some ground on the NHL standings. However, goals have been an issue for the players further on down the lineup.

When Patrice Bergeron was out for multiple weeks with a sternoclavicular/rib injury earlier this season, centre David Krejci filled in on the top line. Pastrnak did not seem to have issues scoring alongside Krejci. Krejci, an above-average passer is able to find his fellow Czech on the ice and create scoring opportunities.

In fact, Pastrnak is in the middle of his best goal-scoring season, scoring an average of 0.59 goals-per-game. His next highest came in the 2016-17 campaign when he averaged 0.45 GPG. If he continues his current pace, Pastrnak has the chance to hit 48 goals this season and that very well could contend for the league-lead. This is barring no injuries and for Pastrnak to continue at this very same pace. It is very possible that David can score more or less than that average moving forward.

If I were a betting man, which I am most definitely not, I would not bet money on David Pastrnak winning the Rocket Richard Trophy THIS season. I do, however, think he can contend for the trophy and within the next five years, he will win the award. Since being drafted twenty-fifth overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by Boston, Pastrnak has done nothing but improve in nearly all assets of his hockey game.

If the trend continues, he will only score more goals. But with predictions and future events, the only true answer is in the hands of one thing – time.

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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Bruins Won’t Call Up Bjork…Yet

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It’s only Human Behavior (especially in Reykjavik) to wonder what’s up with the B’s and Anders Bjork this season. What’s not “up” at the moment? His Winter Classic call from Providence.

According to Bruins’ bench boss Bruce Cassidy, the talented 22-year-old winger just isn’t ready to consistently compete at the NHL level right now. And to thrust him into such a big game, well, that just wouldn’t be fair (even with him playing his entire collegiate career for the Fighting Irish).

“I think that’s too much pressure. We all know the deal with Anders… he was a terrific player for Notre Dame, but our roster is what it is. So if he comes in, what about the guys that have helped us get here?” — NESN interview excerpt from Conor Ryan, Boston Sports Journal

Most likely, It’s Oh So Quiet in the Bjork household currently (maybe even in Iceland as well). But certainly not on social media, where fans, bloggers, wildly speculative hockey heretics, and passionate insiders are all chiming in on the breaking Bjork news:

So, what does this all mean in the big B’s picture? Should Bjork just quit & Play Dead now? I certainly hope not. But, I do agree with “Bruins Arsenal” from Twitter who’s timely take on the situation may be the most realistic given the circumstances:

I’m more of the position… I’m not [left] winging it just yet… that the latter is the more likely long-term scenario since the B’s brass knows, and has invested in, No. 10’s game, fundamentals & skill-set–and for quite some time now. The organization also wants to ensure Bjork succeeds both now AND later, even if it means missing out on an opportunity near and dear to him, his Alma Mater and his family and friends, thus leaving him in a Violently Happy mood if I had to guess (I’m also thinking of another “moody” Bjork if you can’t tell by now).

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: WEEI)

But, enough with all the guess work and would’ve/should’ve prognostications, I say. I couldn’t even convince an Army of Me to vote for sentimentality over common sense. Remember, Bjork DID lace up the skates for 20 games recording only 1 goal for the Black N’ Gold in Boston before being sent down to Providence to work on his game, build up his confidence and prepare for a big return to the B’s (with Big Time Sensuality no doubt).

So that return won’t be in time for the Winter Classic, which does kinda suck as the aforementioned “Bruins Arsenal” tweeted. However, I’m confident Bjork will return — just like his entertaining namesake did for her epic Vulnicura album — and with plenty to prove in the process. As we learned from another notable Notre Dame alum of sporting significance, Mr. Rudy Ruettiger, NOT getting into “the big game” maybe the best form of motivation ever.

 

If you don’t think so, that’s OK. All is Full of Love for me right now with the B’s winning big against Buffalo and gaining ground on that coveted number three playoff seed in the Atlantic. And all will be good with Anders soon, too. I just hope the parts of Bruins Nation that think It’s In Our Hands when it comes to this kid’s future maybe trust in the process just a bit more before ripping the team, management & current players apart. Because Possibly…Maybe what’s going on behind the scenes right now is what we’ll all be celebrating later.

Now, wouldn’t that be (Winter) classic, indeed?

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 and have a Happy New Year! 

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New Year’s Resolution List For Bruins!

Related image(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

“Happy New Year!”

It’s a phrase we all say and have heard of and will continue to share at this time of year. But what constitutes “happy”? That’s always the big question mark/gray area for many of us individually. And it’s how we end up defining our annual resolutions list and IF we can stick to it for longer than a hot second.

For your Boston Bruins… here’s my hot take on what will make them “happy” heading into the New Year and how, as a team and organization, they can make a run at the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. So, without further ado, here is your Bruins New Year’s Resolution List:

1. GOOD HEALTH

Improved health should indeed lead to improved performance as the above story indicates, but as we’ve seen all season for the B’s, staying healthy has been as difficult as finding scoring from the 4th line (except for that last game versus the Sabres I’ll get to in a moment). It seems every time there’s a bit of good news on the health front for one player, another player gets put on the DL. When Bergeron finally comes back, Marchand gets hurt. When Big Z returns, Charlie Mac goes down. It seems every time Coach Bruce Cassidy takes to a podium, he always has to report on someone needing to sit or not being able to suit up for the B’s or how he needs to re-juggle his lines… again… to make it work. Case in point:

It doesn’t take an Einstein-level IQ, no matter what level you’re watching the B’s from, to realize that if/when this team can actually play a game at FULL HEALTH, then the team could go on a run similar to their 18-game point streak from ’17 into ’18 last year. It was this stretch of hockey that catapulted the B’s into not only a playoff contender, but a legitimate Eastern Conference threat. Sure, the same level of talent from that team isn’t skating for the Black N’ Gold this season, but the B’s have enough youthful skill and veteran savvy to make up for it… especially if you can field two top lines at 100% health playing at peak performance levels. Oh yes, the New Year will be happy indeed if this resolution comes true!

2. SCORING CONSISTENCY

As this recent article in the Boston Globe suggests, “the Bruins are struggling to score, and some of the onus falls on their young players.” Thankfully, a few of those youngsters may be finding their groove at just the right time (namely Ryan Donato), while others may be getting a second chance in Boston thanks to the recent suspension of one David Backes (Anders Bjork we’re all speculating). No matter who is on the ice, the aforementioned “upswing” is one-thousand percent needed if the B’s are to pick up points and stay in the playoff picture in 2019.

The same goes for the experienced core of the team. The B’s can ill afford to have nights where No.s’ 37, 46, 63 & 88 put up zero points, not with there unmatched skill, speed & scoring prowess. You could argue that Cassidy plays a role in this by how he pairs his lines, but I’m a firm believer that no matter who’s added as a “third winger” to any pair from above, they should be able to raise their game (and abilities and talents) to match those of Bergy, Krec, Marchy & Pasta.

Image result for marchand bergeron pastrnak krejci(Photo Credit: SportsNet)

As we know, the problem is no matter the combination Cassidy chooses, it hasn’t been able to last. Constant health promulgates consistent scoring. So if the B’s hope to have a Happy New Year, then we’ll need both of the above to take effect — and stay in effect — so it doesn’t affect the team’s ability to win and put up points!

3. SOLID GOALTENDING

You know what won’t melt the ice? The freezing cold Tuukka takes that have truly taken over social media this year. What’s the easiest way to shut it out (and shut others up)? Solid goaltending all throughout the remainder of the 2019 schedule. For Rask AND Jaro Halak. The B’s final game of 2018 will hopefully be the start of exactly that kind of stretch as [for what felt like the first time in a while] the team celebrated “Two U’s, Two K’s, Two Points” from Tuukka in a big save-filled performance between the pipes:

 

More importantly, it sets up Rask for a nice little run of starts where he can keep the momentum going and get on one of his famous “point streaks” that have been known to catapult the B’s in the standings. After all, he lost his 21-gamer to the Sabres so it would only “B” fitting to start a new one at the expense of Buffalo, am I right?

Image result for rask halak(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

I’d also love to be right when it comes to the continued strong performance of Halak that even Rask has tipped his cap to so far this season. Yes, Jaro has built up a more impressive pedigree of stats and W’s to start the year when compared to his crease counterpart. But if the B’s want to truly be a contender and be competing for multiple points every game, they’ll need BOTH goalies to keep them in it for 60 minutes, if not more. Too many games, especially recently, have resulted in Boston being blown out midway through the 3rd with little chance to mount a comeback. If Rask & Halak can make their New Year’s Resolution to just “keep the team in it,” which we all know they possess the raw ability to, then I think more celebrations could be in order for the boys in Black N’ Gold in 2019!

4. WIN THE WINTER CLASSIC

Why not literally and figuratively start the New Year off on the right foot / skate than by winning the Winter Classic “on the road” at Notre Dame against a hated original six rival the Chicago Blackhawks!? That sounds like the PERFECT way to begin 2019 — and to officially start a “winning streak” with two W’s in a row (one to end a year and one to start a year… not too shabby, if it happens)!

Image result for boston bruins winter classic(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

Of course, a lot of things will need to go right for that to happen, namely the B’s actually showing up to the game unlike a few years ago at Gillette Stadium against Montreal. Just the sight of my jersey from that game makes me want to puke at how bad it was (and in case you need a reminder of the joke of a team the B’s put on the ice, look no further than Matt Kalman’s tweet below):

It can’t get any worse, right? I’m confident it can’t and won’t this year. The B’s will be coming off one of their best road W’s of the season (and comebacks) and catching Chicago during what some may call a rebuilding phase. It’s a game Boston CAN win, SHOULD win and WILL win, even if we all have to “will” it to happen. It could also mark quite the milestone game for Tuukka Rask if he indeed gets the nod between the pipes:

A Tiny Thompson takeover for Tuukka? Talk about some New Year’s history! I’ll resolve to see that on January 1st and beyond. Wouldn’t that make us all a bit HAPPY?

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—-> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Official SeatGiant Ticket Info <—