Haydon: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

Photo Courtesy Of NESN.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

First Line: Marchand-Bergeron-Studnicka

If there’s going be a young forward that breaks into the B’s lineup, I’m willing to bet it will be Jack Studnicka. The youngster is already a very talented and dynamic player but obviously doesn’t have much experience as he only has 5 AHL games under his belt. Putting him on the top line gives him a chance to play with some word class players but also to learn from them. Studnicka one day should become a center, but starting on the wing especially on the first line would allow him to not become overwhelmed by NHL play.

Barring an injury of some sort, there’s no reason to think the duo of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron won’t return to the top line on opening night in Dallas.

Second Line: DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

There’s a simple fix to the revolving door of wingers on the second line, and that is to add a little pasta. David Pastrnak is easily the B’s best right-shot winger and has come into his own the last two seasons and become one of the best goal scorers in the entire league. This really should be a simple decision for the Bruins coaching staff, to create two elite offensive lines to make it difficult on opposing defenses. Jake DeBrusk should improve after a slight down season and David Krejci should be at the top of his game after putting together his best season in quite a while.

Third Line: Heinen-Coyle-Kuhlman

I am being completely serious when I say this but if this line is put together it has the chance to be one of the best lines in the entire league. The trade for Charlie Coyle turned out to be an amazing move for the Bruins in February as Coyle was spectacular in the postseason. Not only did he put up the points, he was also very strong on the puck and was able to stabilize the B’s third line which had been stuck in neutral all season long. There’s no reason to believe he shouldn’t perform close to that next season and pairing him with two young, talented forwards would give the Bruins another rock solid line.

Danton Heinen should improve after a rocky second season and should see more scoring opportunities playing with Coyle. Karson Kuhlman is a perfect fit for this line with his determination for the puck and his willingness to go to the dirty areas. He also certainly doesn’t lack in his offensive game and could see upwards of 15 goals next season if he remains in the lineup.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

No surprises here, with Noel Acciari going to Florida. Chris Wagner was incredibly solid in his first year in Boston and should continue on the fourth line and won’t be too much of a downgrade from Acciari. Joakim Nordstrom rebounded from a uneven regular season to be one of the B’s best forwards in the playoffs and should have no trouble keeping his job in training camp. With Sean Kuraly centering this line, the Bruins again will have incredibly solid depth down the middle. Kuraly seems to improve every season so there’s no reason to not expect another jump from him this season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm, Ritchie

Both players were signed as NHL depth so it wouldn’t shock me if they both started the year in Boston. Lindholm is a solid, versatile player that can easily slot in to replace anyone in the lineup if it be an injury or inconsistent play. Ritchie will probably be used in a similar way to Acciari as a fourth line replacement or he may see time on the third line if Kuhlman were to struggle in camp or the preseason.

First Pairing: Chara-McAvoy

Chara is another year older and probably won’t be able to play 24-25 minutes anymore but McAvoy should be able to pick up some slack. However, both players seem to work very well together and are often in the right place especially defensively. McAvoy could easily surpass Chara as the number one defenseman this season which would be good for the front office to see that the team would be in good hands when Chara eventually hangs them up.

Second Pairing: Krug-Carlo

As much flack as Krug gets for being average or worse in his own end, he is a beast of an offensive player and is a big reason why the power play had such a good season last year. He is easily their best offensive defenseman and should continue to be that next season. Brandon Carlo is almost the exact opposite as he became a shutdown defenseman during the playoffs and is just a solid player to have on the back end. Offensively he may not contribute much but is so rock solid defensively that is almost doesn’t matter. Assuming the B’s shed some salary, Carlo should see a decent raise this offseason.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk-Clifton

This is yet another rock solid pair on the back end with both young players having very solid postseason performances. Grzelcyk has grown exponentially as a player ever since he was drafted and at points last season he was the B’s best defenseman. Clifton was incredibly solid when called upon and had a great postseason despite never playing a playoff game prior to this past season.

Extra Defenseman: Kampfer

With both John Moore and Kevan Miller likely starting the year on injured reserve, Kampfer is the obvious choice to have as the seventh defenseman. The B’s signed Kampfer to a two-year deal prior to free agency to serve as a safety net in case of injury or inconsistencies. He was solid in his playing time this past season and understands his role so keeping him around was a no brainer for the Bruins.

Goalies: Rask-Halak

Really no debate here as both goalies should return to a 1A and 1B situation that was so successful for the team last season.

Rask was well rested by the time the playoffs rolled around and had his most successful postseason since 2013. Halak was incredibly solid as a backup and arguably had a better regular season than Rask. Both goalies should again have very good seasons barring any injury.

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

Bruins Schedule 2(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

ICYMI (aka Part I of this ongoing Summer series for the Black N’ Gold Blog)… the Bruins start the season with a grueling October schedule, including two stretches of hockey that could set them up for Fall success or put them behind the proverbial 8-Ball early. That being said/written, if the B’s can hold their own through Halloween, then a lighter and more playable lineup of games will arrive by Turkey Day celebrations in the states, including a marquee NHL Thanksgiving Showdown matinee versus the Rangers on NBC (a rematch from 2013 that featured a Rockwellian pie-off between Cam Neely & Mike Richter, as seen below).

 

November 4th & 5th: “Back-To-Back!”

The Bruins play their first “Back-To-Back” series of the season starting at home versus the always pesky Pittsburgh Penguins followed by a trip across the border to face off against their hated arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens. It’ll be the first time Boston plays either of these competitive opponents on the year and will no doubt include plenty of penalties, power plays & pugilism, if history is any indicator. These are the kind of games that show, on full display, just how your team “measures up” to very similar competition, both in terms of skill & talent and strategy & coaching. If the B’s can make a statement in Boston versus the Pens, then perhaps the usual tired legs of next-day hockey versus the Habs will turn into two big Eastern Conference victories (and four big points).

November 15th & 16th: “Back-To-Back 2: Back At It!”

This Friday-Saturday sequel in the “Back To Back” series (within a series) features a rip-roaring road match-up with the Maple Leafs in Toronto followed by the Washington Capitals coming to TD Garden twenty four hours later. These two talented teams have played the Bruins up to and at their best almost every time on the ice over the last decade, particularly during the regular season. W’s are never guaranteed versus the Leafs & Caps and are as hard-fought as you can get in the East, especially when playing on consecutive nights. This weekend will either set the B’s up for a very fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday week or prove they need to give out the thanks to their hungry opponents.

November 26th & 27th: “Back-to-Back 3: Backed Up!”

And for your viewing & repetitive pleasure, Boston goes “Back-To-Back” for the third time in November just before the aforementioned Gobble Game on the 29th at home. This time, it’s a roadie twofer in the Great White North against those hated Habs again followed by the (most likely 4-16-2) inauspicious Ottawa Senators. Since the B’s will only have one off day after these two games (all holiday travel) before they’re served up on the national TV menu versus the Rangers, taking as many positives & points out of this quick Canadian kick would be highly beneficial and satisfying to all–especially against the senseless Sens.  It will also make it easier for everyone to digest what could be an uncomfortable post-Turkey-Day matinee, as the schedule over this short stretch for Boston is definitely stuffed.

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Cratty: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

Image result for Boston Bruins 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals

(Photo Credit: Associated Press/Charles Krupa)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Before I begin, I want to preface this by saying this will be the first of multiple versions. These won’t factor in any hypothetical trades and is based on what I think the best lineup would be on opening night for the Bruins.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork

If there is a spot for Anders Bjork on this team come opening night, I think it would be best to throw him on the first line. He showed comfortability there at times with the past, and putting a player with dynamic offensive upside such as Anders Bjork on the first line could really start to unlock his potential.

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron will stay perched in their normal spots. I think there is a high chance we see Pastrnak on the first line as usual, but I think there is room for Pastrnak to succeed elsewhere in the lineup while being able to accommodate Bjork in a scoring role.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci stay where they are most familiar, and David Pastrnak gives another consistent scoring winger. The second-line right-wing position has been a revolving door for too long. This is the best internal option to fix the issue that the team has. Doing this could essentially give the Bruins a line 1A, 1B scenario.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman

This line has the potential to be one of the better third lines in the NHL. Heinen and Coyle gelled really well together and Kuhlman has the potential to add great speed and forechecking ability on the wing. A line that can wear you down in all three zones and score.

Additionally, I hope Danton Heinen stays in this spot consistently, as an increase in production could be seen if he has a consistent home with consistent linemates. He was moving up and down the lineup a lot, and the same could be said for Karson Kuhlman. The two could complement each other quite well with Charlie Coyle seemingly clicking with any linemates thrown his way.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

With Noel Acciari off to Florida, Chris Wagner makes a lot of sense in his old spot alongside Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly. I don’t thin Acciari’s departure will deter this fourth line from being dominant yet again. When a change of pace is needed, Pär Lindholm and Brett Ritchie are available.

Extras: Lindholm – Ritchie

When it comes down to it, I think Lindholm and Ritchie were signed to be NHL depth forwards on this team. I don’t see either of them being sent down to the AHL unless they really struggle in camp.

With them in the fold, I could see David Backes being sent to the AHL for cap relief and so these guys can play. That is if Backes isn’t traded before opening night. Backes is still a serviceable NHL forward, but he struggled to find consistency for much of last season.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

When put together, this pair was pretty consistently dominant. Master and apprentice, both having displayed shutdown tactics in different eras of the NHL, as well as alongside one another. There is no need to break up this pairing.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

Same deal here. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo contrasting styles actually complemented one another quite well. Krug had an excellent season yet again, primarily offensively and on the power play, and Carlo had arguably the best season of his young career. No need to break it up.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

The fact that this is the third defensive pairing really shows how deep the Bruins are in the top-six. This could be a second pairing on plenty of other NHL teams. Towards the latter half of the season and into the playoffs, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton were rock solid together. Two talented young puck movers who can break the puck out effectively and establish offense and speed through the neutral zone. A larger sample size of Grzlecyk and Clifton would serve the team well.

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

Steven Kampfer is the seventh defenseman until Kevan Miller and John Moore return. Miller’s situation is tough. It’s hard to tell if he will be healthy enough to suit up on opening night. In this scenario, he isn’t ready to suit up due to the fact that he is still recovering. Being on IR frees up a roster spot until his return. Moore’s recovery timetable is set to be longer, so he is on LTIR in this scenario, freeing up yet another roster spot. Whether their eventual returns affect the top-six remains to be seen.

Goalies: Rask – Halak

This is a no-brainer. Rask and Halak bring us to 23 on the opening night roster.

This is a balanced lineup top to bottom that I hope Bruce Cassidy won’t have to shuffle around all that much. Three forward lines that can all score, a great fourth line, and a rock-solid top-six defensive core, backstopped by two great goalies. A lot can change between now and camp. We’ll see how things shake out.

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

Bruins Schedule(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

With the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 regular season schedule recently released by the league and team, it’s that time of the off-season again to mark your B’s calendar! In this six-part series, I’ll be taking a look at what I think are the key scheduling stretches for the Black N’Gold this upcoming year. Some will be home stands, others long road trips; we’ll preview some back-to-backs and some historic (and heated) rivalries; and of course we’ll look at the big divisional match-ups and Stanley Cup rematches that all of the hockey world will be eager to see.  So, without further ado, let’s start with the B’s grueling Fall schedule — a tough test for any team, let alone one that played until June and will have a limited Summer.

OCTOBER 3rd – 10th: “Road Warriors”

The Bruins open next season on the road and stay on the road for another three games in what could be called a mini Western Conference kick (as opposed to the annual “West Coast Kick” in California later next Spring). The team first plays the always formidable and fight-filled Dallas Stars on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd before taking on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche over the next seven nights, respectively. This will be a pretty solid litmus test for the almost Stanley Cup Champs (who also pride themselves in being “Road Warriors”) as three of their four competitors also had solid playoff runs and will be wanting to make a statement against the Eastern Conference Champs on home ice. I expect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to split these four games, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rode the early hot (glove) hand on the road if either could get on a streak right out of the gates.

If the B’s can secure at least five-out-of-eight points during this opening stretch of hockey, that would be ideal — especially when you consider the team will be without stalwart defensemen Kevan Miller & John Moore to start the year and will most likely be featuring a new top-six set-up with Butch Cassidy juggling “the Sundance kids” to see who exactly is the best fit alongside Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (line one) and David Krejci & Jake DeBrusk (line two).  All in all, there’s a lot to pay attention to and take note of as the B’s travel West for a week to start the ’19 season.

OCTOBER 17th – 29th: “Test Your Might!”

I’m likening this next portion of the Bruins’ schedule to the opening part in the original Mortal Kombat theme song: Test Your Might. And coming off what will hopefully be a successful TD Garden Home Opener on October 12th against New Jersey (that’ll be a good one now that P.K. Subban brings his devilish “D” to the Devils) followed by a visit from the once mighty Ducks of Anaheim two days later, the B’s will need every bit of focus, fortitude & follow-through to contend with what could be the most challenging two weeks of hockey all year (and for any NHL team).

To wit: Boston welcomes the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners from Tampa to town on the 17th and ends the month with the near-Cup-contending Sharks swimming by on the 29th. Sandwiched in between what will undoubtedly be two great games of exciting hockey to bookend this stretch, you see a home-and-home versus a revenge-motivated Toronto team, followed by a Game 7 rematch versus St. Louis’ surly squad that gave everyone in Boston “the Blues.” Then, it’s off to New York to battle the rebuilding Rangers on the road.  These six consecutive games will show beyond a shadow of a doubt if the B’s are still Cup-trending or are in need of a boost/spark before Thanksgiving. To paraphrase a different Mortal Kombat line from the still-catchy tune of yesteryear, the B’s will need stand-out performances from, indeed, their mightiest of stars who will be put the test early and often:

EXCELLENT!

Krejci (Kano)

Big Z (Liu Kang)

Marchand (Raiden)

Tuukka Rask (Johnny Cage)

Bergeron (Scorpion)

Sub Jaro (Sub Zero)

Pasta (Sonya)

BOSTON KOMBAT!!!

Coming up in Part II of my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series, I’ll preview what’s on the November docket and how the B’s can take advantage of some important divisional match-ups to make the most of their early season schedule. In the meantime, stay tuned in and tuned up with all things Black N’ Gold by checking out our podcast below:

 

The Disappearance of the Boston Bruins First Line

brad_marchand_patrice_bergeron_david_pastrnak.jpg(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports Photo)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

It’s been a few days since the Boston Bruins suffered a tough end to a well-hard played season and as many weigh in on exactly what went wrong, it’s hard not to discuss one glaring issue: the production of the first line.

NHL Insider for NBC Sports Joe Haggerty dubbed the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak “The Perfection Line.”  Throughout the regular season, the Bruins top line combined for many of the games top points and Brad Marchand hit 100 career points. At the end of the postseason, they combined for 59 points but despite that, the struggles of the first line had become a hot topic.

(Photo Credits: Harry How/Getty Images)

Last season saw the first line leading in team production, however, it was evident that the Bruins wouldn’t be able to survive on one line alone. This season Boston’s story turned around and as the team fought through injuries, the “next man up” mantra came into fruition. The Bruins kept winning despite all the line juggling and soon saw themselves punching their way into the Playoffs. The fourth line went full-steam ahead and with the addition of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, Boston found their missing pieces.

As the Bruins trailed the series 3-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the top line exploded with Marchand tallying up two goals and an assist, Bergeron with an assist and Pastrnak had two assists, forcing a Game Seven. But when it came time for Round Two and Round Three, things started to dry up a bit. Early on, Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the concern in regards to the lack of  production from the top line-most notably Marchand:

“We asked him to attack a little more. What happens with Brad is if the puck’s not going in, he wants to make plays for Pasta, because Pasta can score, Berg, they’re all 30-goal scorers, so [Brad] defers a little bit. If the pass is there, obviously make it, but don’t be afraid to shoot. You saw it the other night, he rang one off the post, had one cross screen and nice blocker save, [Sean] Kuraly almost got the rebound, so there was some stuff going on there for him. I thought Pastrnak was closer than that, had a block on a wraparound, so he’s getting inside. That encourages me. So I feel they’re close, but St. Louis is tough. It’s tough to get inside, they defend well, goaltender’s playing well. So it’s a good battle right now.”

As with the Toronto series, the Bruins found themselves with their back against the wall, but were able to push back and force Game Seven on home ice.  But when the time was needed for Boston’s once-feared first line to explode again, the trio garnered little to no points and missed many scoring chances in the final Game Seven. If you look strictly at the plus/minus, all three had a -3 or -4  at one point in the series.

Related image(Photo Credits: NBC Sports)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Game Seven was arguably the most important game for the Bruins and it was a quite…lackluster. And while you can’t place blame on just one line nor should you expect just one to produce all the goals, the drought was ill-timed. The final game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is one of sports biggest stage and there were many mistakes made. For Marchand, that badly timed line-change is something he will always “live with.” And when asked about the line’s struggles,  Marchand stated:

“I mean, that’s playoff hockey. You’re not going to dominate every game, you’re not going to score every goal. It is what it is. Obviously, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we would’ve liked to be better. That’s hockey.”

For as tough as this loss was, the focus will now turn to the buyout period and free agency. Changes are inevitable and many of the young players have expressed their strong desire to stay right here in Boston. In a few months, the team will once again come together and whether or not Coach Bruce Cassidy keeps the top line together remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure… the Bruins will use this loss as a lesson and raise the Cup sooner than you think.

Everything You Need To Know About The Boston Bruins Break Up Day

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, lies on the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues Monday, June 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Zdeno Chara

This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.

Kevan Miller

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.

Dec 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) takes a knee on the ice during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

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

David Krejci

No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”

Jake Debrusk

He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.

Brad Marchand

It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.

David Pastrnak

Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.

John Moore

This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”

Charlie Mcavoy

Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.

Boston Bruins’ Marcus Johansson was hospitalized after an enormous hit by the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland sent him flying to the ice during Tuesday’s game.Â

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”

Noel Acciari

The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.

Steven Kampfer

The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”

David Backes

Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.

Torey Krug

One of the biggest question marks of this offseason is “definitely very aware of the situations and scenarios that can play out” but also “wants to be here forever.”

“Score” Another Record For Playoff Bruins

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

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

When you hit “21” in BlackJack, you’re an automatic winner. For the Black N’ Gold, that number hits upon a lot of winners this postseason as well.

Namely, the twenty one different goal-scorers the Bruins have had since the playoffs began earlier this Spring (and since they’re just about playing into Summer, that’s saying something). Not since the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers has any team balanced the score sheet so consistently and productively as this year’s beloved B’s. The “next man up” mantra should add the phrase to score at the end of it because no matter who Boston has inserted into the lineup on any given playoff night, that player has found a way to impact the game –and the net– in short order.

And it’s not just the top guys we’re talking about here… it’s the Karson Kuhlmans and Steven Kampfers and Brandon Carlos who are contributing just as important and timely of goals as the Patrice Bergerons, Brad Marchands & David Pastrnaks of the team. THAT is why the Bruins have beaten the likes of the Leafs, Blue Jackets & Hurricanes. THAT is why the B’s are pushing St. Louis to the brink. THAT is why Boston is on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup in what is, and what will undoubtedly be, a truly historic Game 7 on home ice at TD Garden (in fact, it’s the first ever Bruins SCF Game 7 at home in franchise history).

So, to recap, who exactly are these 21 goal scorers? It’s probably easier to just write “everyone not named John Moore or Tuukka Rask.” But, thanks to our friends at NBC Sports Boston, we can now show you in all its Gloria-gouging glory:

That’s right… the B’s had 13 different goal scorers in Round One versus Toronto; 3 more in Round Two versus Columbus; another 3 in Round Three against Carolina; and thus far 2 more battling the Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. Add ’em up… 13 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 21. Dealing out all the player cards below, that’s an impressive sight no sleight of hand needed!

(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins)

In fact, you’ve truly got to hand it to the Bruins and their depth, something Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and management have been preaching ever since the season began way back in the Fall in China! And with hockey’s most celebrated season about to end in Boston on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019… wouldn’t it be “a banner” night indeed if the B’s could bring home Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup for the second time this decade, giving each of 21 goal scorers above the ultimate “win” in all of professional sports?

I’ll stand on that!

Bergeron, Krug With Impressive Playoff Points For Bruins

Image
(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

When you think of perfection, a word that shares both literal & figurative resonance with the B’s top players & top line–led by none other than Patrice Bergeron himself, you think of a number. Well, two numbers now. 100 & 37.

And since hockey, by and large, is a numbers game — especially when lining up a hit between the numbers — it was only fitting that Bergy bested some of Boston’s best ever in a game three performance that completely tilted the ice (and perhaps the series) in the Black N’ Gold’s favor.

But the defacto co-captain of the Bruins wasn’t the only “B” buzzing around the rink and score sheet in St. Louis. Enter MSU alum and power play specialist Torey Krug to the conversation, whose big night from the blue line rivaled that of Bergy.

In fact, Krug’s quatro-point performance propelled him into unparalleled Boston Bruins hockey history. He became the first EVER B’s defenseman (aka defenceman) to record four points in a Stanley Cup Finals game. That’s right… Shore never did it. Orr never did it. Bourque never did it. Big Z never did it. But, No. 47 did!

And if that wasn’t impressive enough… Krug also entered into elite National Hockey League playoff history with his puck-perfect performance–one that definitely gave the hard-hitting and oft-whining opposing team the Blues (cue “Roll Over Beethoven” from Chuck Barry, not Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” for this).

What a nice problem for the Bruins and B’s fans to have after a decisive 7-2 victory, right? Two of their most important & pivotal players each reaching milestones in the SCF! And at the most timely of times to regain home ice and also give a struggling perfection line and top PP unit a big boost of confidence moving forward. Will the numbers continue to trend in this direction? Most likely not at such a historic pace, but even if the B’s received half of what we saw in game three, then the odds are looking good for going back to Boston with a chance to win it all. And all thanks to the inspired scoring and point production of Patrice & Torey — oh, what a story!

Image result for krug bergeron stanley cup(Photo Credit: Hockey News)

Now, wouldn’t that be perfect?

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 3: Boston at St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

With the series deadlocked at one apiece, the Stanley Cup Finals head to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Three of the best-of-seven series. The Bruins left Game Two with an overtime loss in an overtime session that had zero offensive chances whatsoever – resulting in the goal against on the penalty-kill.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (13-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (13-6)

Last Game Result: Blues won 3-2 in OT

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is out of the lineup after taking a hard hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Game Two. Sundqvist was handed a one-game suspension as a result of the injury, but regardless Boston will be without Grzelcyk tonight. In replace of him, John Moore enters the lineup.

First Period:

For the first time in 49 years, the Blues are hosting a home game in the Stanley Cup Finals and the atmosphere in St. Louis showed that. The crowd was explosive and deafening in the pre-game anthem and ceremonies. Once the puck dropped, the two teams exchanged some hard hits, including a massive one on David Backes by Sammy Blais. Right back the other way, Jake DeBrusk goes for a hit, but gets called on a knee-on-knee hit, Boston goes shorthanded just over a minute into the first.

The Blues had some solid chances early on the man-advantage, with the best one coming later on the power-play from David Perron, but Tuukka Rask stays strong with a big save.  Vladimir Tarasenko also had a chance with a short-side shot on Rask but gets stopped and this game returns to 5-on-5.

Even after the early power-play, the Blues controlled the game and it took until roughly the six-minute mark of the opening frame to record their first shot, a close one by Charlie Coyle that almost past Binnington who was all the way on his stomach. Bruins need to come out more aggressive on the offensive attacks.

Not long after that, the Bruins’ first line had some good puck movement and had some decent chances – good signs for Boston. In Boston’s zone, Tarasenko nearly strikes first but again, Rask stays big and strong and keeps this game tied 0-0. A high-paced game made even more exciting with the roaring St. Louis crowd in attendance.

That first line of Boston has their best shift of the series later on in the period. Fantastic passing and zone coverage leads to a David Pastrnak one-timer that somehow gets saved by a sprawling Binnington. Pastrnak has been throwing everything towards the Blues net, trying to get deflections and rebounds. Good start for Boston.

St. Louis has been sending their defensemen hard to the net to get some chances, but it is only allowing chances the other way. David Backes and Jake DeBrusk find themselves on a 2-on-1 chance, only for Alex Pietrangelo to break up the chance. In the neutral zone, though, David Perron clearly interferes with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins go to their first man-advantage of the hockey game with 9:34 remaining in the first period.

The power-play stays hot. Only twenty-one seconds into the man-advantage, Torey Krug rifles a shot off of a faceoff win that gets deflected by none other than Patrice Bergeron, beating Binnington glove high. Assists go to Krug and DeBrusk – Bruins lead 1-0.

With the intensity level rising even more than they already were, both Connor Clifton and Ivan Barbashev get matching minors during a battle between the two and the game heads to 4-on-4 action for the next two minutes of play. St. Louis ate up a good 30-45 seconds just passing the puck within their own zone. Not a whole lot of opportunities for either team in a very defensive 4-on-4 session.

With just around two minutes left in the frame, Charlie Coyle does a terrific job taking the puck up the ice, avoiding the defenders, and passing it off to Danton Heinen. Heinen drops the puck for Johansson who makes a beautiful pass off a slick fake shot right to Coyle, beating Binnington and extending the Bruins’ lead to two goals.

Only seconds are ticking away on the clock, Joakim Nordstrom gets tied up with the Blues defenceman, leaving the puck alone for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly just shoots the puck with a screen in front of Binnington and it goes past the red line. The play caught the young goaltender off guard and Boston makes it 3-0 with seven seconds to go.

Craig Berube challenged the play for offside, but the goal stands after the review and Blues are handed a bench minor. Boston will have 1:50 of power-play time to start the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 8

Score: 3-0 Bruins – Goals: Bergeron (8) PP Assists: Krug (12), DeBrusk (6); Coyle (8) Assists: Johansson (7), Heinen (6); Kuraly (4) Assists: Nordstrom (4)

Second Period:

Typically, a power-play at the very beginning of a period is a lot more difficult to score on, but not in this case. Only forty-one seconds into the second period, Torey Krug finds Pastrnak down low. Pastrnak makes a quick deke and roofs it past Jordan Binnington on the blocker side, extending Boston’s lead to four goals. The once loud crowd in attendance is silent and a pin drop could be heard. Momentum is all in Boston’s favour.

Boston controlled the first few minutes of this period after the goal as well, shooting the puck often, making wise defensive decisions and just looking good. Eight minutes into the middle period, Jaden Schwartz hits McAvoy behind the Bruins net. Only seconds later, McAvoy clears the puck but catches his stick on Brayden Schenn’s stick and he goes off. While McAvoy skates to the box, Pat Maroon and Zdeno Chara go off for unsportsmanlike conduct, leaving Boston without Chara and McAvoy on the PK. However, no issues as the B’s make their eighteenth straight successful penalty kill and we are back to even strength.

In need of serious momentum, the Blues get some great zone control when the Bruins are dead tired – needing a desperate line change. St. Louis knows this and makes sure they cannot go off, cycling the puck down low and eventually scoring past Tuukka Rask. Ivan Barbashev fires a shot from a Zach Sanford pass in front that takes a double deflection off of Charlie McAvoy, cutting the lead to three.

Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron get another good zone entry with some good passing before Brad Marchand draws a penalty on Colton Parayko. While Parayko sits in the box, the Bruins make it look easy. Clean, tape-to-tape passes by the Bruins eventually lead to a bullet shot from Torey Krug that deflects off of a Blues defenceman in front of the net and beats Binnington. Immediate response to St. Louis’ tally and Jordan Binnington is pulled as a result, Jake Allen enters the cage.

The Blues had some chances later in the period, including a post shot, but failed to strike again. David Perron ran into Tuukka Rask with about twenty seconds remaining, followed by a nose-to-nose staredown between the Bruins goaltender and the Blues forward. Rask had no intentions of touching him, a great show of self-control and calmness from the Finnish netminder. The second period ends not long after, 5-1 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 18

Score: 5-1 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (8) PP Assists: Krug (13), Bergeron (6); Barbashev (3) Assists: Sanford (1), Steen (3); Krug (2) PP Assists: Marchand (12), Bergeron (7)

Third Period:

Less than a minute into the final regulation period, the game returns to 4-on-4 hockey. In the middle of a net-front battle, Clifton cross-checks Sammy Blais and the arm of the official goes in the air. After the whistle blows, David Perron also gets called on a minor penalty – two for roughing.

Not long into the pair of penalties, Brandon Carlo takes a careless interference penalty on Ryan O’Reilly right in front of Tuukka Rask, forcing the game to 4-on-3. St. Louis tried to make passes around the triangle formation of Boston’s defence, but they failed to get much through the bodies in front and both the 4-on-3 and the 5-on-4 afterwards conclude with no goals for the Blues.

Six minutes into the frame, captain Zdeno Chara takes another penalty for Boston. On the power-play, Colton Parayko fires a shot from the point, bounces off of Brandon Carlo and knuckles over the shoulder of Rask, making it a three-goal game once again. Blues end the 19-kill streak on the penalty-kill for Boston.

A careless third period for Boston continues when Jake DeBrusk goes to clear the puck out of the zone but clears it out of the rink in the meantime. Third consecutive power-play for St. Louis in the period, with a chance to make it 5-3 with over thirteen minutes remaining. Boston’s players shorthanded do a great job with a textbook PK, shutting St. Louis down fully – back to even strength.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled goaltender Jake Allen with 5:30 remaining in the game, trying to get a quick goal and make this one a little bit more interesting. The Bruins took until under two minutes left in the game, Joakim Nordstrom feeding it to Noel Acciari for the 6-2 goal. Just beforehand, McAvoy blocked a huge shot on the inside of the knee and was in some pain on the bench.

Somewhere in there, the Blues take another penalty and Boston does not go easy, Marcus Johansson strikes on a clean one-timer goal – Boston going 4-for-4 on the man-advantage and take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 7-2 victory on the road.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 STL: 29

Final Score: 7-2 Bruins – 2-1 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .931 SV%

2nd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 22:09 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 58% Faceoffs, 15:58 TOI

Game Four goes down Monday, June 3rd at 8:00pm EST in St. Louis, Missouri.

For Bruins, The “Best” Is Yet To Come… Maybe?

Image result for boston bruins stanley cup(Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

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

For the Bruins’ best, is the best yet to come, as the old adage goes?

At the start of this series against the Western Conference Champion St. Louis Blues, many who follow this talented team — myself included — definitely thought YES. After all, the B’s were coming off a sweep of the high-flying Hurricanes, one in which their top line topped the entire score sheet in a clinching game four victory. But with game three of the Stanley Cup Final on the horizon (and on the road), now many of us are not so sure — again, myself included.

Now, I wouldn’t call the Blues an “inferior” team by any means, but there may be a bit of truth to the Black N’ Gold’s perfection line showing perfectly obvious signs of rust after not only the week plus layoff, but also the layman-like play these first two games of the series. It’s fair to ask this (Paula Cole cowboyless) question: where have Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand & David Pastrnak gone? Regrettably, not to the net enough or to the bench enough celebrating those big, timely goals — you know, the kind your best players tend to score?!?

So, how exactly do the Bruins’ best intend to “clean up” those aforementioned details in time for a pivotal game 3 in St. Louis? Will Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tweak his top line — as he’s done in every previous playoff series at one point — to spark his struggling stars? Even in his most somber of post game press postures following game two’s gut-wrenching OT loss, he still pointed out an important solution to the most noticeable problem No.’s 63-37-88 seem to be suffering from (…again):

Yet, for all the criticism he and his team have faced in the last few days (coming off a more than impressive 8-game playoff winning streak, mind you), I think the man affectionately known as Butch was butcheringly blunt: the B’s need to remind themselves of how they’ve been successful in every round, and against every opponent, during these extremely favorable Stanley Cup Playoffs:

“Rebounding pucks, getting second chances, forcing [the other team] to defend. Usually, ya know, [it] results in penalties as well so that’ll be a point of emphasis.” — Bruce Cassidy

And speaking of penalties earned and thus power plays given… here’s a given: the B’s will not be hoisting Lord Stanley’s coveted silver chalice in the next week or so unless they can consistently make the most of the PP minutes they’re drawing from the sometimes beleaguered and belligerent Blues. And that especially goes for the top unit which includes, at times, all of the illustrious players alluded to earlier and pictured below.

Related image(Photo Credit: Zimbio)

Sure, the Bruins have scored a goal with the man advantage in a near record-setting six consecutive playoff games, but it’s no exaggeration to state they easily could’ve scored multiple PP goals in every game dating back to the Carolina series. You may get away with a missed “one up” opportunity here or there during the regular season and during the early rounds of the playoffs, but certainly not in the SCF where every shift, change, shot, point & goal matters. I mean, how many teams wish for a penalty to be called in a tie game in the third period with under ten minutes to go in the finals (and to take a stranglehold 2-0 lead in the series)!?!? EVERY ONE–if they’re lucky to get there. The B’s most certainly were in game two and yet…

I guess we were all singing the blues (sorry, Blues [capitalized]) after that. But, if there’s anything this wonderfully watchable run of hometown hockey has taught us this year, it’s that the B’s know how to respond to adversity. Especially on the road. And fittingly, their best players are all on the same page when it comes to the respective response.

That certainly sounds like someone who “B”lieves the best really is yet to come in this now best-of-five game Stanley Cup series.