Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part V

Picture 1 of 12(Photo Credit: Bruins Pinterest)

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

Since we just celebrated Friday the 13th on the calendar here in the States, it’s only fitting to remind everyone what “Part V” of that seminal series was called: A New Beginning. Well, that’s exactly what the month of February could be for the Boston Bruins depending on how the team handles a January against some quality dual opponents (as I outlined in the previous installment of our Black N’ Gold Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar series).

Also, like the hockey-masked killer character in the aforementioned film franchise, the B’s hockey franchise won’t be able to mask any of their faults in February–especially on every weekend–because of the 14-game workload lined up for them, including a historic five Saturday games. They even get to play on LEAP YEAR day! How’s that for superstitious scheduling since Friday the 13th references will be a recurring theme throughout this piece. So, let’s drop the puck (and perhaps the machete) on what specific games are worthy of highlighting on your B’s calendar this fabulously frightening & frozen February!

 

Weekend One: Crystal Lake, Minnesota

Okay, okay. We all know that Camp Crystal Lake is not in Minnesota, but rather in New Jersey (as far as fake movie location names go). But, if the B’s can open the month of February with a “road W” over former friend Ryan Donato at the Xcel Energy Center on the 1st, then they can celebrate its first Sunday by visiting a famous underwater Jason Voorhees statue just up the road. In fact, the Wild will be a fitting first opponent to begin a busy hockey stretch at an important time of the year for the Bruins. Since 2015, the B’s have won four of their last five road games in Minny, including the last two, so keeping that streak alive would be advantageous considering the former city of North Stars always plays spirited hockey against Boston.

Weekend Two: Jason Takes Boston

The B’s will be lucky it’s only Jason Demers coming to town with the Coyotes on February 8th and not that other titular Jason from the woods. Then again, if the team doesn’t want to end up out in the woods, the players should take care of business against an Arizona squad that will most likely be out of the playoff race by then. Also, they’ll need to get on a plane to fly off to Detroit for a Motor City matinee on the 9th immediately following their howling hockey versus the Coyotes. I would call this back-to-back home/road split versus two beatable teams a must-win weekend for the B’s if they want to build momentum during a month where all eyes will be on playoff positioning.

Weekend Three: Origin(al Six) Stories

More matinee marquee match-ups are in store for February 15th & 16th against Original Six rivals the Red Wings again, followed by the New York Rangers (and all of this coming hot on the heels/skates of the B’s having recently played the Blackhawks & Canadiens a few games earlier). And like any good horror movie’s origin story, the B’s will need to look to their successful history against these teams in order to “make them history” at a time when both the division & conference races will be tightening up. All of these contests offer national audience eyes as well, so you can best “B”-lieve the hockey world will be talking them up since many broadcasters, like fans from these cities, champion themselves as Original Six supporters & supposed soothsayers (this is also similar for Friday film fanatics).

Speaking of making bold predictions, if the B’s aren’t careful — i.e. they let the Wings take them to a shootout then get gassed at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours later — then they could end up looking just like this upon leaving New York… an expression well-known to a familiar-faced character who enjoyed romping around Manhattan back in his heyday. (Eastern Hockey League be damned!)

 

Weekend Four: Canadien Cutthroats

When it comes to the Bruins traveling across country for their annual “West Coast Canadien Kick,” the schedule always seems to fall in February for these three games — two of which will be back-to-backers on February 21st (Calgary) and 22nd (Vancouver), respectively. One needn’t guess which other city the B’s will be visiting just days prior unless you’ve been living under Plymouth Rock for the past decade and not paying attention to this always-highlighted stretch of hockey (it’s Edmonton in case you have been and my apologies).

And if previous seasons are any indicator, then we all know just how important taking AT LEAST four out of six points will be for the B’s against the Oilers, Flames & Canucks. This will be cutthroat hockey at its finest–with no machete needed–proving just how fun, competitive & memorable these games can be. The B’s also like to use this road trip as a memory-making team bonding experience so let’s hope they make the most of what the calendar has lined up for them yet again this upcoming season.

Weekend Five: The Final Chapter

This weekend, or to be more specific this Saturday matinee, only comes around once in a blue–strike that, Black N’ Gold, moon; definitely once every four years, but rarely does that infamous day fall on a game day. That’s right, I’m talking about February 29th — LEAP DAY! And the Bruins throughout their 23-Leap-Year history (sorry, the franchise Inaugural Year of 1924 doesn’t count on the Leap-season statistics since it began in December long after February celebrated an additional day of aging) have had nine games on that calendar extension mark, if you will.

Plainly, to put a mark on it, the B’s are a mediocre 4-4-1 on LEAP DAY dating back to the Roosevelt administration (that’s FDR not TR for you Presidential historians out there). To get even more detailed, the team’s 4-1-1 at home in Boston and 0-3 on the road in Toronto, Chicago and New York. If you’d like to see it in list form, look no further than below:

BOSTON BRUINS LEAP YEAR HISTORY:

1940 – W, 4-2 over Montreal

1944 – L, 7-3 @ Toronto

1948 – L, 5-1 @ Chicago

1956 – L, 4-2 @ New York

1964 – W, 2-1 over Detroit

1968 – W, 4-1 over Toronto

1976 – W, 5-3 over Vancouver

1992 – T, 5-5 with Washington

2000 – L, 5-1 to Ottawa

If the Bruins would like to win their first ever LEAP DAY tilt on the road and, dare I type, tilt the ice in their favor, they’ll have the perfectly slanted opportunity to do so against the insalubrious Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in 2020. Now, that’s a game I’d like to see — be it in person, on television or on the NHL-TV recap ap! It’s obviously the final day of February (and for those celebrating an “Over The Hill” occasion, their 10th official Birthday), but I’m rooting for the B’s franchise to be exactly like the Friday the 13th franchise on this day — not only will it NOT be the final chapter, but many successful sequels will follow!

Image result for boston bruins season schedule 2020(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

With the month of March looking scarily similar to February — both in terms of the number of games and number of tough teams to play against for Boston — the B’s could find themselves successfully skating towards the playoffs or falling through the ice and flailing for help just like that poor young boy whom the camp counselors ignored much to his maligned mother’s chagrin & sharp knives. Thankfully, there’s no Friday the 13th in February of 2020… and now you don’t have to mark your calendar to know it!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

BNG First Annual Bruins Season Predictions

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

Well, folks. Here we are. The 2019-20 season is just around the corner and camps are underway. And here we are to meet your Bruins needs with the First Annual BNG Season Predictions! We throw some guesses out there, some educated and some not, on predicting the unpredictable. All questions based on regular-season unless otherwise stated. Assembled here for this is our five-person panel from http://www.blackngoldhockey.com, and without further ado, let’s get this underway and hope you enjoy!

On Twitter, they are as follows!

Michael: @b_blackngold
Joe: @jchrz19
Lucas: @LucasPearson_
Garrett: @thesportsguy97
Mike: @Mike_Cratty

Will Pastrnak hit 40 goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Pastrnak put up 100 points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will Marchand top the 100 point mark?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

How many goals will Marchand score?

Michael: 40
Joe: 37
Lucas: 38
Garrett: 38
Mike: 33

Can Bergeron stay healthy for the full season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Bergeron this season?

Michael: 82
Joe: 77
Lucas: 92
Garrett: 72
Mike: 88

Will the Bruins keep the top line together or look to spread the wealth?

Michael: Let them continue to dominate.
Joe: Keep them together.
Lucas: Stay together.
Garrett: Keep them together.
Mike: Stay together.

Will DeBrusk score 30+ goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will DeBrusk post 70+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Who will lead the team in points and with how many?

Michael: Brad Marchand. 104.
Joe: Brad Marchand. 94.
Lucas: Brad Marchand. 101.
Garrett: Brad Marchand. 106.
Mike: Brad Marchand. 98.

Will Krejci be able to match his 2018-19 season in terms of overall play?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Krejci?

Michael: 70
Joe: 69
Lucas: 68
Garrett: 71
Mike: 71

Is there a chance Grzelcyk could be moved up to lessen the load on Chara?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Not likely

Will Chara see less ice time this season? If so, what will his average TOI be?

Michael: Yes. 19:00.
Joe: Yes. 20:50.
Lucas: Yes. 19:20.
Garrett: Yes. 20:30.
Mike: No, the same as last season.

Will Big Z retire after this season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will McAvoy see over or under 23 mins average TOI?

Michael: Over
Joe: Under
Lucas: Over
Garrett: Over
Mike: Under

How many points will McAvoy produce?

Michael: 55
Joe: 43
Lucas: 39
Garrett: 43
Mike: 47

Will Torey Krug still be a Bruin by the trade deadline?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Heinen have a back bounce season and contribute more offensively with 50+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Can Coyle bring his 2018-19 playoff success into the regular season consistently?

Michael: Definitely
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

With Brett Ritchie being added to the bottom 6 group of forwards, can he come in and make an impact?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

How will the addition of Ritchie and Lindholm affect the lineup?

Michael: Bolster the bottom 6 depth.
Joe: Won’t affect it.
Lucas: If they get in the lineup, they will
contribute.
Garrett: Won’t change much, as they
won’t get much ice time.
Mike: Depth, but no real playing time.

How many starts will Rask get? Halak?

Michael: Rask 44. Halak 38.
Joe: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Lucas: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Garrett: Rask 46. Halak 36.
Mike: Rask 48. Halak 34.

How many wins for Rask? Halak?

Michael: Rask 28. Halak 22.
Joe: Rask 30. Halak 19.
Lucas: Rask 30. Halak 20.
Garrett: Rask 29. Halak 23
Mike: Rask 29. Halak 21

What will be Rask’s Sv% on the season be?

Michael: .912
Joe: .920
Lucas: .918
Garrett: .914
Mike: .921

Can the Bruins find a trade partner for Backes or will they eat his contract until it runs out?

Michael: Yes.
Joe: Yes, next offseason.
Lucas: After this season.
Garrett: They are stuck with it.
Mike: Yes, next summer.

Could Vaakanainen earn himself a spot in the top 6 by seasons end?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

What prospects will get a look in some NHL games this year?

Michael: Studnicka, Senyshyn, Vaak, Lauko, Steen, Frederic
Joe: Vaak, Studnicka, Lauzon, Frederic, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.
Lucas: Studnicka and Bjork.
Garrett: Studnicka, Vaak, Lauzon
Mike: Vaak, Lauko, Lauzon, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.

Who is your candidate for the player that “comes out of nowhere?”

Michael: Zachary Senyshyn
Joe: Zachary Senyshyn
Lucas: Anders Bjork
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who is your player pick for “comeback of the year” player?

Michael: Anders Bjork
Joe: Danton Heinen
Lucas: Danton Heinen
Garrett: Danton Heinen
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who will be the offensive team MVP? Defensive MVP?

Michael: Marchand and McAvoy.
Joe: Marchand and Carlo.
Lucas: Marchand and Krug.
Garrett: Marchand and Carlo.
Mike: Marchand and McAvoy.

What player will win the Seventh Player award this season?

Michael: Matt Grzelcyk
Joe: Anders Bjork
Lucas: Matt Grzelcyk
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Connor Clifton

How many points in the regular season will the Bruins get?

Michael: 102
Joe: 105
Lucas: 109
Garrett: 111
Mike: 108

Will the Bruins make it back to the playoffs? Finals?

Michael: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Joe: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Lucas: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.
Garrett: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Mike: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.

If no, what round will they get beat out in and to who?

Michael: Conference finals loss to
New York Rangers
Joe: Second round exit to Tampa Bay.
Lucas: They’re winning the cup.
Garrett: Conference finals loss to
Washington
Mike: All the way for the cup win.

LEAGUE PICK EMS

Top 3 finishers in each division, in order.

Atlantic Division

Michael: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Joe: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Lucas: Tampa, Boston, Florida
Garrett: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Mike: Boston, Tampa, Toronto

Metro Division

Michael: New York Rangers, Washington
Philadelphia
Joe: Washington, Pittsburgh, New York
Islanders
Lucas: Carolina, Washington,
Philadelphia
Garrett: Washington, Pittsburgh, New
York Islanders
Mike: New York Rangers, Washington,
Carolina

Central Division

Michael: Nashville, Colorado, Dallas
Joe: Nashville, Dallas, Colorado
Lucas: Colorado, Nashville, St. Louis
Garrett: Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg
Mike: Nashville, St. Louis, Colorado

Pacific Division

Michael: Vegas, Calgary, San Jose
Joe: Calgary, Vegas, San Jose
Lucas: Calgary, San Jose, Arizona
Garrett: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary
Mike: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary

Eastern Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Boston v New York Rangers
New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay v Washington
Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston v Toronto (WC)
Boston in 7
Garrett: Boston v Washington
Washington in 7
Mike: Boston v New York Rangers
Boston in 6

Western Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Nashville v Vegas
Vegas in 6
Joe: Dallas v Vegas
Dallas in 7
Lucas: Nashville v San Jose
Nashville in 6
Garrett: Colorado v San Jose
San Jose in 6
Mike: Vegas v Colorado
Vegas in 7

Stanley Cup finals winner? How many games?

Michael: New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston in 7
Garrett: San Jose in 6
Mike: Boston in 7

Most likely exceed expectations?

Michael: New York Rangers
Joe: Arizona
Lucas: Arizona
Garrett: New York Rangers
Mike: New York Rangers

Most likely to underachieve?

Michael: St. Louis
Joe: Columbus
Lucas: Winnipeg
Garrett: Carolina
Mike: Dallas

Canadian team with the highest points?

Michael: Toronto
Joe: Calgary
Lucas: Calgary
Garrett: Toronto
Mike: Toronto

How many teams north of the border will make the playoffs?

Michael: 3
Joe: 4
Lucas: 2
Garrett: 3
Mike: 3

AWARD WINNERS

Hart Trophy

Michael: Connor McDavid
Joe: Nathan MacKinnon
Lucas: Connor McDavid
Garrett: Nathan MacKinnon
Mike: Connor McDavid

Art Ross Trophy

Michael: Nathan MacKinnon
Joe: Connor McDavid
Lucas: Nikita Kucherov
Garrett: Nikita Kucherov
Mike: Connor McDavid

Calder Trophy

Michael: Kappo Kakko
Joe: Kappo Kakko
Lucas: Jack Hughes
Garrett: Jack Hughes
Mike: Kappo Kakko

Selke Trophy

Michael: Patrice Bergeron
Joe: Aleksander Barkov
Lucas: Patrice Bergeron
Garrett: Patrice Bergeron
Mike: Patrice Bergeron

Norris Trophy

Michael: Victor Hedman
Joe: Roman Josi
Lucas: Seth Jones
Garrett: Victor Hedman
Mike: Victor Hedman

Vezina Trophy

Michael: Henrik Lundqvist
Joe: Ben Bishop
Lucas: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Garrett: Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jack Adams Award

Michael: Jared Bednar
Joe: Jim Montgomery
Lucas: Rick Tocchet
Garrett: Jared Bednar
Mike: Bruce Cassidy

Coach on the bubble?

Michael: Mike Babcock
Joe: Bruce Boudreau
Lucas: Bruce Boudreau
Garrett: Mike Babcock
Mike: Mike Babcock

GM on the bubble?

Michael: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Joe: Brad Treliving
Lucas: Pierre Dorion
Garrett: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Mike: Kevin Cheveldayoff

Player drafted 1 to 3 at the 2020 draft?

Michael: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Joe: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas Raymond,
Quinton Byfield.

Lucas: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas
Raymond, Quinton Byfield

Garrett: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Mike: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton Byfield,
Lucas Raymond

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Bruins Patrice Bergeron Preparing For Another Career Season

PatriceBergeron1-1040x572.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

In the future, the Boston Bruins will likely be raising the #37 banner into the TD Garden rafters and Patrice Bergeron will go down as one of the greatest players to play in the Spoked-B sweater and one of the greatest defensive forwards in the history of the National Hockey League.Thankfully for us, we are still in the midst of Bergeron’s career and the accolades and milestones will only continue to pile up.

Before we dive into Bergeron’s upcoming 2019-20 campaign, it helps to learn about the beginning stages of the beloved assistant captain. Bergeron was drafted 45th Overall (2nd Round) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Born in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada, Bergeron spent his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Bergeron played the full 2002-03 season with the Titan, putting up an impressive 23-50-73 stat sheet in 70 games including another 15 points in 11 playoff games. After being selected by the Bruins in the NHL Draft, he made his way to the big leagues, where he played in 71 games during the 2003-2004 regular season, scoring 16-23-39 numbers in that span. This was the same year that Bergeron won his World Championship Gold Medal with Canada.

Due to the lockout in the 2004-2005 NHL season, Bergeron played with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, scoring 61 points in 68 games. The center was also able to play in the Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship where he would once again win Gold with Canada while winning the MVP of the tournament and scoring the most points (13) out of any other player. Following his first 70-point season for Boston, Bergeron was named assistant captain of the Bruins to start the 2006-2007 campaign.

Patrice was forced to miss the entirety of the 2007-08 season due to a concussion suffered in October of ’07, but came back the following year with 8-31-39 totals in 64 games played. After winning his first of two Olympic Gold Medals with Canada in 2010, Bergeron scored 57 points in 80 games, but added another 20 points in 24 playoff games to win the Stanley Cup in 2011. This win stamped Patrice Bergeron’s name in the “Triple Gold Club” – World Championship Gold, Olympic Gold, and Stanley Cup.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/Boston Bruins)

In his 15-year career with the Boston Bruins to date, the now 34-year-old Bergeron has 321-492-813 numbers in 1028 career NHL games, winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward in the NHL four times (tied with Bob Gainey for most all-time), winning Olympic Gold twice, and having his #37 retired by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

In this past 2018-19 season, Bergeron dealt with some injuries throughout the year, keeping him to only 65 games played, but he managed to hit the 70-point mark for the first time since his concussion twelve seasons ago and he nearly hit 80 points for the first time in his career. According to Hockey Reference, Bergeron recorded 42 takeaways and only 27 giveaways, earning his eighth-straight Selke nomination.

With the official Bruins training camp beginning tomorrow, we turn to the upcoming 2019-2020 NHL season and this one, not anymore than the other years, can be and should be a career-setting season for one of the best. Below are some of the big milestones and accomplishments that can be reached by “Bergy” this year.

  • 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • 850 Career Points (Current: 813)
  • 3rd-Most Games Played as a Bruin (Don Sweeney: 1052) (Current: 1028)
  • 5th-Most Goals as a Bruin (Cam Neely: 344) (Current: 321)
  • 5th-Most Assists as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 516) (Current: 492)
  • 5th-Most Points as a Bruin (Bobby Orr: 888) (Current: 813)
  • 4th-Most Even-Strength Goals as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 218) (Current: 209)
  • 5th-Most Power-Play Goals as a Bruin (Rick Middleton: 102) (Current: 96)
  • 2nd-Most Shots as a Bruin (Phil Esposito: 3223) (Current: 3047)

From the statistics above, it is clear that for the remainder of history, Patrice Bergeron will be one of the greatest players to play for the Boston Bruins and as his career continues, he will only continue to rise through the rankings of some of the all-time greats.

However, recent news showed that Bergeron may still be dealing with some lingering injuries that have been bothering him for the past few seasons. During the Stanley Cup Finals, it was made clear that Bergeron was dealing with a groin injury that kept him from playing at a full 100-percent. Once the series concluded, the news came out that he would not require off-season surgery, but Bergeron said the pain has lingered during the summer.

“I feel better,” he said. “It’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer, so I got a PRP in July I think and I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice and … I think it’s what we’re trying shoot for is more October rather than this Thursday.” 

If Patrice Bergeron does decide to participate in the Bruins training camp that begins tomorrow, expect him to be limited in what he can do. Regardless, the hope is for Bergeron to have a full season or at least one that does not see much time missed. Bergeron went on to say the following in the same NHL.com article by Matt Kalman.

“It’s been a short summer. I think the best way to go at it is to kind of take it slowly and kind of make sure you get ready for October instead of getting ready for the first day of camp,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s how you kind of build that up and how you’re able to be fully rested or feeling good in January and February and the long stretch. You know I think that’s what you’ve got to aim for.”

Do you think Patrice Bergeron hits any or all of the milestones above? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Mainville’s Full 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions

boston_bruins.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports Images)

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

September has always been one of my favorite months of the year. The summer is winding down, the students start heading back to school, the leaves begin to fall off the trees, the sweaters and pants come out of the drawers while the tank-tops and shorts go back until next year. However, best of all, the return of the NHL hockey season is right around the corner.

Before the season officially begins in October, the events that come before the first puck drop of the year fall one after another. Rookie camp, training camp, preseason games – all while management scrambles to find the players who have proven enough to make it to the big leagues, to earn a spot in the NHL, but also send the players who failed to reach those expectations to lower levels of hockey.

This time last season, I published my official 2018-19 in-depth predictions – going over my lineups, statistics, final standings, and of course, the success of the playoff season. Taking a glance back at that article showed that I was wrong about a few things, but regardless, it is fun to do just that and look back. So without further ado, here are my official 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions. 

Lineups

This season more than ever, predicting the lineup of the Boston Bruins is a difficult task. The Bruins still do not have a proven top-six right-winger to play alongside David Krejci on the second line and with the loss of Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari to free agency, the Bruins have some more holes to fill from their Stanley Cup Finals appearance this past June.

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

(Lindholm)

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

(Moore – IR, Miller – IR)

Goaltenders

Rask

Halak

Earlier this off-season, I published an entire article on Black N’ Gold Hockey regarding this dilemma and this was the lineup that I had settled on. For this current moment, I am going to leave it this way but let it be known, that I would without question, substitute a prospect from the system into Brett Ritchie’s third-line role. However, due to the fact that it will come down to performance in training camp, I will leave them off. I do see Anders Bjork making an entrance on that third line, so do not be too surprised if that comes to fruition as well.

061319.N.PJ.KARSONKUHLMAN goal hugs cmyk .jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

Individual Statistics

Without a single ounce of doubt, the Boston Bruins have a plethora of talent in the system that can not only hold their own, but can put up numbers over the course of the 82-game NHL season. When it comes to making predictions a month out, individual statistics of these players are always the most difficult for me. Last season, I had Brad Marchand leading the team with 85 points – yet he turned in a 100-point season. Regardless, here we go.

Note: For these predictions, I am going to assume that no injuries are going to play an impact on any player and that Charlie McAvoy agrees to a contract before the season begins. Of course, both are not certain but it would be impossible to predict otherwise.

Top Three Scorers (Forwards)

Brad Marchand – 38G – 57A – 95P

David Pastrnak – 42G – 50A – 92P

Patrice Bergeron – 28G – 45A – 73P

Top Three Scorers (Defense)

Torey Krug – 5G – 45A – 50P

Charlie McAvoy – 14G – 35A – 49P

Matt Grzelcyk – 4G – 20A – 24P

I simply cannot put any other forward than the three superstars on the Bruins forward core when it comes to the highest point totals at the year end. Marchand had a tremendous 100-point season in 2018-19, but I do not think he will meet that mark. Pastrnak, on the other hand, will see a large increase from his 81 points last season due to his chance to play more than 66 games this year. Patrice Bergeron will increase in points as well for the same reason.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy could very well surpass Torey Krug this season for point totals as he only skated in 54 games in ’18/’19 – ten less than the veteran Krug. McAvoy will find his game, but I think with the power-play time of Krug, he will remain ahead of the young blueliner.

Regular Season Standings

Even with the changes throughout the league in the off-season, not too much should change in April when the final league standings on NHL.com are published. In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division is one filled with three powerhouses in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Aside from them, the talent drops off but will be picking up this year.

The other Eastern division, the Metropolitan, is one giant question mark. Franchises such as the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes can see large jumps in the standings while the Columbus Blue Jackets and even the Pittsburgh Penguins can see a worse position for the playoffs. My predictions for the standings here may be a little crazy, but truthfully, anything can happen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Atlantic Division:

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Boston Bruins
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs
  4. Florida Panthers (1st WC)
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Buffalo Sabres
  7. Ottawa Senators
  8. Detroit Red Wings

Metropolitan Division:

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. New York Islanders
  3. New Jersey Devils
  4. Carolina Hurricanes (2nd WC)
  5. New York Rangers
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Philadelphia Flyers

Possible Milestones for the Boston Bruins

Milestones are all over the sports world. Players breaking records set decades prior, teams reaching new marks that have never been seen before, or a player setting a new career-high or finally reaching that career goal total. With aging veterans, the Boston Bruins have quite a few players that can reach large career milestones.

Skaters:

  • F David Krejci – 200 Career Goals (Current: 194)
  • F Charlie Coyle – 100 Career Goals (Current: 93)
  • F Patrice Bergeron – 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • F Brad Marchand – 300 Career Assists (Current: 297)

Goaltenders:

  • Tuukka Rask – 500 Career Games Played (Current: 495)
  • Jaroslav Halak – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 47)
  • Tuukka Rask – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 45)

Playoffs:

Not one person genuinely thought the Boston Bruins would finish 2018-19 as the NHL’s Eastern Conference Champion, let alone pushing the St. Louis Blues to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. With that said, it happened. The Boston Bruins are not favorites to win the Cup this season, but there is absolutely nothing that says that they cannot contend again.

Do not be surprised when the Bruins and Maple Leafs once again battle it out in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals and it will go seven games and yet again, Boston will pull through on top. Toronto’s defense did not drastically improve and they have some holes around the lineup as well. I imagine the Bruins taking the series until Toronto improves defensively.

Everyone and their mother expected the Lightning to be a Finals-guarantee, but the defending President’s Trophy winners failed to win a single game in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, getting swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Look for them to comeback with a vengeance this season and I see them defeating the Bruins in the second-round. When at the very top of their game, Tampa Bay has given the B’s trouble and unfortunately that will be showcased in their best-of-seven series.

There you have it, my full prediction article for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins season. Agree or disagree with any of it? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Donnelly: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night

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(Photo: Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Credit to fellow Black ‘N Gold writer Mike Cratty for coming up with the idea for this article a few weeks ago; check out his article here. This lineup is how I would have things in a perfect world scenario to kick off the year, hence “ideal” in the title.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork

Keeping Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron together was the easiest thing about this hypothetical lineup. The two key cogs for the B’s have had unbelievable chemistry throughout their careers and have lit things up over the last few seasons while elevating the play of those around them.

Anders Bjork is the wildcard here. Like we saw with Danton Heinen for parts of last season, a good dose of action with these two guys may be all a player needs to get going. Now, there is still a high possibility that David Pastrnak ends up on the right side where he has been a mainstay and Bjork starts the year in Providence to get his legs under him again, but this combo is a low-risk, high-reward scenario.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak

Like Bergeron and Marchand, keeping DeBrusk and Krejci together proved to be a no-brainer as the two have formed a strong on-ice chemistry over the last two seasons. Moving Pastrnak to a spot where he has been successful in the past seemingly solves the problem that has been the gaping black hole at right wing over the last few seasons.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman

Charlie Coyle was among the missing pieces last season that, once settled in, really paid dividends for the Bruins as he played hometown hero for the Bruins throughout the playoffs. We also saw a major improvement in Danton Heinen with the arrival of Coyle, although his impact was not seen on the scoresheet as much as Coyle; keeping these two together will really help create consistency and production on the third line.

Karson Kuhlman played extremely well when called upon in the regular season and Stanley Cup Finals and established himself as an NHL-caliber player. his style of play should mesh well here.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Another no-brainer here with Noel Acciari gone to Florida and given the chemistry these three displayed at times last season. The Bruins sorely missed Chris Wagner down the line last postseason. Hopefully, we can expect the same model of consistency out of both Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly this season. I would expect this fourth line to be nothing short of dominant once again.

Extras: Ritchie – Lindholm – Backes (IR)

Brett Ritchie should be a fine depth piece for the Bruins next season, and may even make a big impact like Nordstrom did last season as he’ll likely be able to slot in anywhere on the wing as needed. Par Lindholm will also be a nice reserve piece. With reports that David Backes may be injured to start the season, I’m projecting my lineup holding that assumption; once healthy I’d expect either he or Lindholm to be sent down to Providence.

First Pair: Chara – McAvoy

We have been seeing the passing of the torch in real time with this pairing over the last few seasons. Charlie McAvoy was on a different level during the Bruins’ long playoff run this past spring and Zdeno Chara remains an absolute workhorse on the backend. Assuming McAvoy signs before the season, we could witness something really special in terms of his growth as player this season. There are some question marks around Chara given his age entering this season off of a shorter off-season, but I would not expect too much of a drop off, if any.

Second Pair: Krug – Carlo

Speaking of a different level, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were arguably the Bruins’ best pairing during the latest playoff run. With Krug as one of the league’s premier offensive talents on the backend and Carlo as rock solid as ever in his own zone–and only getting better (assuming he signs, too)–this pairing should pick up right where they left off this season.

Third Pair: Grzlecyk – Clifton

Another steady pairing during the postseason run, Grzlecyk and Clifton proved that the spotlight is not too big for either of them. Clifton burst on the scene in the playoffs after having not played a game prior, and showed that he was ready. Meanwhile, Grzlecyk was arguably Boston’s best defenseman during the regular season and was solid throughout the playoffs.

Extras: Kampfer – Moore (IR) – Miller (IR)

Assuming Moore and Miller are still hurt to kick off the season, Steven Kampfer, fresh off signing his new extension this summer, is the seventh defenseman. Once Moore and Miller return, there will be some question marks regarding the top-six, but Kampfer is likely a perfectly adequate depth piece either way.

Goalies: Rask – Halak

Another given, Tuukka Rask was unbelievable in the playoffs last season after having a solid regular season in tandem with Jaroslav Halak. Rask showed that he is still able to compete at an elite level.

A lot of Rask’s success can be attributed to how well Halak played during the regular season as he was able to shoulder a good amount of for Rask, allowing both of them to be as sharp as possible.

Coach’s Corner Squared: Bruins, Celts, Pats, Sox Edition!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins via 13 Photography)

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

I think Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy is living his Boston Wonder Years right now.

And it doesn’t take a wunderkind to realize he enjoys “getting by with a little help” from his friends! Just two weeks after visiting legendary Patriots coach Bill Belichick and striking up quite the bond (as this Black N’ Gold blogger noticed), Cassidy was at it again. This time talking shop — and Jimmy Fund philanthropy — with not only a phoned-in Belichick of the Pats (that’s a literal meaning as it could never happen figuratively to the GOAT of the sidelines) but also fellow NESN studio guests Alex Cora & Brad Stevens of the Red Sox and Celtics, respectively.

Sure, this was a brilliant way to raise awareness and money for a cause as connected to Boston sports and New England charity as clam chowder and candlepin bowling. But it was also a once-in-a-blue-moon glimpse into the minds of perhaps the best known (and respected) foursome of coaching talent this city by the Charles has ever seen — no disrespect to the Auerbach/Holovak/Sinden/Williams years of the 60’s and early 70’s! And to quote the man who represents the B’s with plenty of aplomb and on-air honesty:

“It’s great to have some banter [between the coaches, media & fanbase]. Let’s just keep it to the performance on the ice.”

That certainly sounds a bit Belichick-ian don’t you think!? And with on-ice performance for the B’s only a month away now, Cassidy was sure to make the most of this opportunity and lean on both Cora & Stevens for further insight into how the Bruins can best bounce back in ’19-’20:

“You coach discipline, you can hold people accountable with their discipline. Talent levels change from team to team…(but) we’re very lucky. I’m one of the most fortunate guys in the National Hockey League to coach true pros like [Patrice] Bergeron and [Zdeno] Chara.”

I’m confident they’d echo those same sentiments back on “Butch”… the coach who took them from a playoff outsider just two-and-a-half years ago all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals this past Spring and who plans to take it even further (JUST ONE MORE WIN), ideally as soon as this upcoming season:

We learned a lot going into our playoffs last year from all three coaches in town. Hopefully down the road as the Bruins we can pay them back.”

Boston Coaches(Photo Credit: NESN)

Payback would certainly be sweet for the B’s, there’s no doubt about that. And as a certain TV theme song laments, “do you need anybody” for that to happen? Well, I think Bruce Cassidy now has the answer in a familiar Boston Coach’s Corner that certainly doesn’t lack expert insight, advice… or wonder.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 8-25-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

 

Contract Year Could Mean Big Things For Bruins DeBrusk

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

It’s been quite a two year ride for Jake DeBrusk. He’s seen a lot, from scoring a goal in his first career game to dominating his first playoff experience to losing on home ice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The former first round pick has excelled for the most part since his debut, putting together a rookie season of 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points. DeBrusk performed above expectations and followed up his impressive regular season with an even better postseason. He posted numbers of six goals and two assists for eight points in just 12 playoff games. The young winger surprised everyone by performing so well, playing with an edge not typically seen in a rookie. His energy and excitement was unmatched in his first season that was full of great moments.

After having such a successful rookie season, the pressure was on DeBrusk to duplicate those numbers or perhaps go beyond that. After performing so well with virtually no expectations, DeBrusk struggled at certain points last year with expectations to improve on his rookie numbers. The crazy thing about it is, this happens in every sport after a player has a strong rookie season. The particular player is expected to perform the same or better despite considering their age and experience. It seemed like these expectations got to DeBrusk and caused him to go through some tough stretches. Ironically, Number 74 finished his second season with just one fewer point than the season before. DeBrusk posted 27 goals and 15 assists for 42 points, drastically improving his goal scoring total. DeBrusk also saw more time on the power play, especially on the top unit with players like Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug.

DeBrusk then had an up and down postseason that ended with a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final. It was revealed after the series that the young winger had played through a concussion in the postseason and potentially could’ve been the reason why he didn’t seem to perform at the same level as did the year before. DeBrusk posted four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 24 postseason games which in terms of raw production was better than his first postseason but appearing in so many games perhaps should’ve had him produce more than he did. Obviously though playing through a concussion has serious effects on a player and perhaps DeBrusk was effected in a such way that it changed the way he played. With a player his age, using this past spring as a learning experience certainly would go a long way as he continues to grow as a professional.

DeBrusk will almost certainly come into training camp with something to prove after perhaps a less than stellar postseason. The good news is his place in the lineup likely won’t change barring something unforeseen such as an injury. DeBrusk will almost certainly start the season on David Krejci’s left wing and should continue to see time on that first power play unit. DeBrusk is certainly going to get a ton of scoring chances and it’s not unreasonable to think he could reach 30 goals. With this season being a contract year, expect DeBrusk to play with that energy we all saw in his first year. It’s been a bumpy ride for DeBrusk in his first two seasons but expect his best season yet in 2019-2020.

Bruin’s Offseason: All Quiet On The Eastern Front (1 of 2)

(Photo Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

The start of free agency saw the Bruins come out of the gate quickly, signing or extending seven players. Forwards: Brendan Gaunce, Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Fitzgerald…Defensemen: Connor Clifton and Josiah Didier…Goalie: Max Lagace. While none of these players were big-name signings, which was to be expected given the Bruin’s limited cap space and restricted free agents, it was an encouraging sign for the fans of the team.

Over the next three weeks, forward Peter Cehlarik signed a one year deal, forward Danton Heinen inked a two-year extension, and center prospect Pavel Shen signed his ELC. Since then, all has been quiet on Causeway Street, with very little being said about restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. This is not unusual for the Bruins. Since Sweeney was named GM, they like to keep everything internal and very little leaks out. The only comments on the subject came from Bruin’s President Cam Neely via Joe Haggerty two weeks ago.

That brings us to the present, and where the Bruins go from here. With the Backes’ contract still on the books, the team does not have the Cap space to acquire any more help at this juncture. So, what you see is what you get as training camp looms.

The only thing that appears certain at this point is that Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak are the B’s two netminders. In this two-part series, we will take a look at the openings and question marks the Bruins have at forward and on defense heading into the 2019-20 regular season. Part One will deal with the forwards and Part Two the defense.

The Bruins return a Top 4 that was as good as any in the NHL. Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Krejci combined for 333 points. Jake DeBrusk had a “decent” sophomore season, and will likely be attached to Krejci’s left side, as he has been for the first two seasons of his career. His 27 goals in 2018-19 were more than acceptable, but it would be nice to see him up his assist and overall point totals, particularly as he was a staple on the PP most of the season.

The only real question mark in the Top 6 is who is going to play to the right of David Krejci. It seems that this has been an issue headed into every season since Nathan Horton left following the 2012-13 season. My first choice to fill one of the Top 6 right-wing positions would be Danton Heinen. I have been a proponent of putting Heinen with Bergeron and Marchand on a more permanent basis for a while now. He showed last season over a 16 game stretch when Pastrnak was injured that he can play and more importantly, produce, in that role, putting up 13 points during that span. This would allow the B’s to put Pastrnak on Krejci’s right-wing, giving him his first legit scoring threat there in years.

The Bottom 6 would appear to have four spots already locked up with Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, and Nordstrom filling those positions unless something unforeseen happens. That leaves only two openings for a wide variety of candidates.

They include incumbents Karson Kuhlman, Petr Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Anders Bjork. Newcomers Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Oskar Steen, and possibly Jack Studnicka (although the B’s have consistently maintained they want to keep him at center) round out the group. These players represent a wide variety of styles and experience levels and while all have question marks of one type or another, they give the Bruins the ability to go in a number of different directions.

Three of the contenders, Cehlarik, Lindholm and Ritchie are not waiver exempt, meaning the Bruins risk losing them if they don’t make the team out of camp. Every year this plays a factor around the league in who makes teams initially. Many times more talented players who are waiver exempt end up getting sent down to the AHL, at least to begin the season.

Bruins fans are well acquainted with Cehlarik. The 24-year-old former third-round pick has appeared in 37 NHL games over the last three seasons with mixed results. He has tended to start off quickly and then become less visible as his appearances mount. He’s a big body that uses his size for puck possession but is a below-average skater. The left-shot wing does have the flexibility to play both sides.

Lindholm was a point per game scorer for Skellefteå of the SHL, but it didn’t translate to the NHL with Toronto last season, where he had only 12 points in 61 games. He turns 28 in October and is primarily a center (51% in the dot with 400 attempts). His advanced stats were not great, but in his defense, he had only 30% offensive zone starts.

That brings us to the newly-signed Brett Ritchie. A big, physical scoring wing in his OHL days, who scored 41 for Niagara one year. The offensive side of his game has never manifested itself in the NHL, where he only has 33 career goals in 241 games. If I had to guess, I would say that the B’s see Ritchie as a cheap replacement for what Backes brings (on ice), if they can find a way to move 42.

bjork

(Photo Credit:  Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The next group of guys: Bjork, Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Fitzgerald, Steen, and Studnicka contain my two favorites to get the remaining spots and also my “long shot” candidate. All of these guys are waiver exempt, so they will be susceptible to being “stashed” in Providence to start the season. For that reason, I am going to rule out both Fitzgerald and Studnicka. I would much rather see them playing big minutes in all situations with Providence than watching from the press box in Boston.

My favorite to take the first open spot in the Bruin’s forward lineup this season is Anders Bjork. The 23-year-old graduate of the University of Notre Dame already has 50 NHL games under his belt but has yet to have any tangible impact because of a variety of injuries. Shoulder surgeries have cut short Bjork’s seasons in consecutive years, but perhaps the third time is the charm? Bjork has an NHL-caliber shot, a quick release, excellent skating skills and is a good three-zone player. The only thing he needs to stick in my opinion is a bit of luck and some good health. As a rookie, Bjork put up 3g/6a in his first 16 games (playing with Marchand and Bergeron) before suffering a concussion after a collision with Toronto’s Matt Martin. The Bruin’s staff seems to really like Bjork, so he’s a possibility for Top Six duty again, but personally, I would start him on the third line at left-wing and see what happens.

The other player I see cracking the lineup in October is Minnesota-Duluth’s, Karson Kuhlman. Bruin’s fans are already familiar with him due to his strong play down the stretch and into the playoffs, where he compiled eight points in 19 games. Kuhlman is another player (like Bjork) that possesses plus speed and skating ability and a strong defensive game. I believe he would be a strong complement to Bjork and Coyle at right-wing on the third line. Bruce Cassidy could use a line like that in a variety of situations, including up against the top two lines of opposing teams. Combine that with the confidence he already has in the “fourth line” and it would provide him a great deal of flexibility when matching lines.

A player I’m sure the Bruin’s brass would love to see grab a spot is former first-round pick Zach Senyshyn. Bruin’s fans would likely be relieved as well if he became an NHL regular so they did not have to hear about the 2015 draft any longer. Senyshyn has the size/speed ratio needed to roam the right-wing on the third line. The only issue is that the scoring touch the 6’2″, 200 pound Ottawa product displayed in the OHL (114 goals in 195 games) has yet to manifest itself as a pro in the AHL. His supporters point to his deployment as a third liner and the desire to develop his three-zone game as reasons why he has not scored more. His critics say that a lack of consistency and hockey IQ’s are the culprits. I would love to see Boston start him off in a fourth-line role and let him play his way higher into the lineup. However, it may be a case of musical chairs, where there are too many bodies and not enough seats to go around?

My dark horse candidate for the third-line right-wing position is Swede Oskar Steen. He was a 6th Round Pick (165 overall) in the 2016 draft. He got off to a slow start in his first two seasons with Farjestäd of the SHL. In 2018-19, Steen was given a larger role and ran with it. He finished the season with 17 goals and 20 assists in 46 games. It was good for 10th in scoring in the SHL and he was the only player in the Top 10 under the age of 26 (20 at the time). He also finished with 49 PIM’s (18th) which is impressive for a guy of Steen’s small stature (5’9″, 187-pounds). I had the pleasure of watching him at several of the Bruin’s Development Camps, and in my opinion, he was easily the most skilled forward I saw. He’s quick, explosive, and strong on his skates. Given that skill set and his build, he will definitely garner some comparisons to Marchand. Obviously, he has a long way to go before he ever reaches that level.

Bruins development camp

(Photo Credit:  Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

I wouldn’t put money on it, but if someone twisted my arm and forced me to put in in writing, this is what my starting lineup would look like for Opening Night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday, October 3rd:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Bjork-Coyle-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Ritchie

There are definitely some question marks in the Bruin’s top nine, but there are also a number of candidates that could fill those holes. The options, competition, and differing styles of the players involved should make for an interesting Camp where roster spots will be on the line.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part IV

Image result for bruins 2020 season(Photo Credit: Calendars.com)

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

Happy New Year, Bruins fans!  Well, not yet. But it COULD be a “Happy New Year” in 2020 if the B’s take advantage of their lightest load of games on the season in a month’s time — 11 in total, six on the road and five at home (sorry, April, your two contests in week one don’t count as a “month”).

And there’s considerably less fanfare for the B’s to start the “hindsight year” (2020 aka 20/20… get it?) compared to playing in the historic Winter Classic at Notre Dame against their Original Six rivals the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019. Now, that was a memorable game:

 

Speaking of hindsight, a laid-back January may be EXACTLY what next season’s Bruins need in order to set themselves up for a Spring playoff push. As you may recall from Parts I, II & III of this spirited Black N’ Gold series, the B’s begin 2019 with three months of heavy hockey that will almost feel like an entire season in and of itself — multiple home stretches followed by road trips, back-to-backs against Stanley Cup contenders (perhaps even favorites for ’19-’20) and few “rest weeks.” In fact, three days off is the LONGEST amount of downtime the team will have until this early Winter stretch. They’ll also, “ain’t no lie,” have their Bye Bye Bye! week and All-Star break vacation to add to this less busy bundle of games.

So, let’s take a look at the key match-ups in January that deserve a mark on your Bruins calendar. To make it easy for you, it’s three spread out home-and-home contests versus tough teams the B’s could very well see come April, May and hopefully even June:

January 2nd & 14th: Columbus Connections

Unless the B’s want to end up cannon fodder, it would behoove them to silence Columbus first at TD Garden on the 2nd and then take the sting out of the Blue Jackets on the road on the 14th, just like their riveting Game 6 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series which featured a Tuukka Rask shutout (oh, the memories) and timely goals from the non top-liners (perhaps we should’ve seen this coming).  Either way, the BOS & CBJ head-to-head battle has truly been abuzz for the past year+ so it will undoubtedly make for some entertaining early ’20 hockey!

Image result for bruins blue jackets(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

January 9th & 31st: Winnipegged

If only this Manitoban team played like the New York JETS, then you could already chalk up two easy wins for the B’s (actually… maybe not as Bruce Cassidy could’ve found out from Bill Belichick recently)! All similar sporting names aside, the 99-point Western Conference pucksters from the ‘PEG have been used to WINNIng lately — and in ’18-’19 they beat the Bruins both times they faced off, fittingly once at home and once on the road. So, the 9th (TD Garden) & 31st (Bell MTS Place) would be the perfect time for the B’s to take off with a few victories against a talented team that will once again contend in the opposing conference.

Image result for bruins jets(Photo Credit: WBUR)

January 16th & 19th: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Hey, at least these two games against Pittsburgh will be more entertaining than that truly flightless movie (still love ya Jim Carrey — not to be confused with your once Bruin’ netminding namesake…yes, I know he spelled it differently)! However, if the B’s don’t want to end up face-planting on the ice against a team that can skate & score circles around most opponents, then they best lace up their HAPPY FEET and come ready to play next level hockey versus Pittsburgh. Going all the way back to the “Super Mario” years where the B’s got bested by the Pens almost every regular season and playoff series (2011 exceptions to be celebrated), this true-to-form home-and-home series will be a back-to-back must-watch and perhaps even a playoff preview if both teams are lucky…and healthy…and consistent(ly lucky and healthy)!

Image result for bruins penguins(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

AND…

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

 

Coach’s Corner: B’s Cassidy & Pat’s Belichick Bond

Image(Photo Credit: Mike Reiss – ESPNBoston.com)

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

Cassidy and Belichick. Not a bad Coach’s Corner to be in, no disrespect to B’s alum Don Cherry and his North-of-the-border broadcast bud Ron MacLean.

And as many members of the Boston media reported Monday, the Bruins’ bench boss attended his second consecutive #PatsCamp and took it all in with his family by his side.

Now, Cassidy’s son Cole may have a career in football on his hands (hands that Kraftly caught this pigskin on camera earlier)…

…but if there’s any football career to be clamoring about in Foxboro it’s that of Cassidy’s cross-town coach Bill Belichick — a coach that he hopes to learn from even more ahead of his team’s Stanley Cup runner-up follow-up season. As Cassidy mentioned back in May to our friends at NESN before his black n’ gold squad suited up for the Cup Finals, he reached out to Belichick for advice on how to handle not only the long layoff between the ECF and SCF, but also the pressure of playing for it all in Boston:

“[The Patriots] share whatever they can — very supportive. It’s been great for me. I’ve gotta tell you — [Belichick’s a] terrific guy. Very insightful, and it was great. I really appreciate it.” — Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, May 2019

Well, as we all know by now (and perhaps are still trying to forget), the B’s came up short while playing for it all this Spring & early Summer. One game short. One shift short. Perhaps even one play short if you like to factor in momentum in do-or-die postseason games — all scenarios Coach Belichick has been through, learned from and overcame while leading the Super Bowl Champion Patriots to two dynastic runs over the last 19 New England years. And as we learned from NESN again, Cassidy couldn’t resist checking back in with Belichick on Monday — this time about how to bounce back when your team comes oh so close to winning it all:

“A little bit about his team, a little bit about situational stuff that happens. For example, coming off a loss at the end of the season, [the Pats] did it two years ago to Philly, rebounded to win a championship last year. So, what kind of preparation goes into that, or do you just put it all behind you and move on? So, try to steal a few things here and there in that area [from Belichick].” — Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, August 2019

Sage advice from a man who’s become a legend in our sports-crazed community. Can we also get Tom Brady & Patrice Bergeron together to talk championship fodder & folderol? Kidding aside, Cassidy’s comments definitely create good karma & buzz ahead of a B’s season bound to be under the microscope from September to hopefully May and June again. And if his team can rebound a la the Patriots after a championship loss, then I think this Cassidy/Belichick bond blossoming before our eyes could become the new Coach’s Corner!

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 140 that we recorded on 8-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

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