Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Sam Fryman | Follow me on Twitter @sfryman20

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

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

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

First Period:

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

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period:

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

Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

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

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

Final: 5-3 Bruins

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

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

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

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

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

Score: 1-0 Penguins

Third Period:

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

Score: 1-1

Overtime:

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

Final: 2-1 Penguins

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What Do The Bruins Gain With Carey/Frederic Over Cehlarik?

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Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

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

I will not sit here and pretend to be some kind of savant who has superior knowledge over NHL GMs when it comes to the business side of hockey. The extent of my knowledge on the business side of an NHL team could be summed up by the phrase, “pay the better guys more money.”

With that out of the way, my focus shifts to the prolonged influx of Providence Bruins that have been gracing the lineup of their older brother (or sister) team over the course of this season. Names like Vaakanainen, Clifton, Frederic, Lauzon, Kuhlman, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Zboril, Bjork, Smith, Stempniak, and now Carey, have all found shelter from the AHL storm for at least a few nights this season. Some have shown more promise than others. Some have demonstrated that they are not yet ready for the NHL. Some showed the raw talent that has yet to be harnessed into an effective system within the confines of a team.

And almost all of them have demonstrated that their names are difficult to pronounce. Kudos to Gemel Smith, Connor Clifton, and Paul Carey for making it easy on me.

Importance

With the Bruins settled fairly squarely in a playoff spot barring any sort of colossal blunder to finish the season, the quest for home ice is one that cannot, in my opinion, be under-emphasized. Currently, the Bruins are the meat in the Tampa/Toronto sandwich (there are so many better ways to say that, but I’m very hungry). This group of three teams (TB, BOS, TOR) currently sits as three of the top five teams in the entire league.

With the notion that Toronto will almost certainly be the first-round matchup for the Black and Gold, a rational hockey observer will take note of how things have changed since last season’s matchup with the Leafs. Matthews and Marner are both having career years, and John Tavares has brought even more offensive punch to the lineup. With Morgan Reilly gaining another year’s experience, Toronto is a better team than they were last year. This makes home ice all the more important for the Bruins to secure.

This doesn’t happen without a strong finish—something that will require a lineup that is most conducive to effective and sustained play. As things look now, the influx of players from Providence– most recently Trent Frederic and Paul Carey (along with Connor Clifton)– constantly joining then leaving the Bruins does not seem most conducive to success down the stretch for the team.

 

Win Now.

The Bruins have a team that is good enough to pursue a “win now” approach. While many might rightfully slot Tampa as a stronger team entering the playoffs, it is well within the realm of possibilities that Boston squeaks out a win in a seven-game series against the Bolts. I mean, this is sports. Don’t be ignorant.

For a team that needs to place significant importance on maintained success heading into the postseason, their lineup is changing far too much. Spotty, three-game stints for more than half a dozen AHL-ers might be something that is more fathomable when the playoffs and home ice is so close within reach. If the Bruins were out of playoff contention, then, by all means, I might say “go nuts” and maybe even support a scenario where the P-Bruins and the big club even switch jerseys and have a fun little time! But that’s not the case. Also sounds like a decent idea for a screenplay. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Consistency.

Anyone who has played hockey at a high level understands that chemistry, consistency, and familiarity with those around you are all conducive to enhanced on-ice performance. With the exception of Karson Kuhlman and Cehlarik, no call-up from Providence has been able to quickly gel with the line-mates with whom they are placed. This speaks volumes about the versatility of each of these two.

The events of the past few days have defied logic in the sense that the Bruins are now relying on players unfamiliar with the Bruins personnel and style of play to join the squad and move things forward. Chemistry is fostered through players being given sufficient time to learn one another’s play styles. Sure, it would be awesome if everyone knew one another’s tendencies on the ice after just shaking hands. But to my knowledge, we don’t have the technology to make that happen yet. And thus, that is not how things work.

Peter Cehlarik got sent down to Providence after Bruce Cassidy made him put on his seatbelt, securing him to the bench, for the third time in less than two weeks. Cehlarik was afforded a bafflingly short leash, and by all accounts actually played a strong style of hockey when he was allowed to be on the ice. He found early chemistry with David Krejci, and more recently proved to be a compatible linemate for newcomer Charlie Coyle amidst an absolute jumble of forwards thanks to injuries. Coyle and Cehlarik strung together shifts that consisted of sustained possessions, offensive zone time, and that resulted in offensive zone face-offs. While not a whole lot of scoring resulted from the play of these two, it’s difficult to produce when you are secured to the bench.

While the handling of Cehlarik is a touch bothersome, it has been clear that of the AHL call-ups this season, he has been far and away the most effective. Which makes it even more frustrating that he has been sent to Providence in favor of Paul Carey and Trent Frederic. Frederic had around 10 games with the Bruins earlier in the season. He showed toughness, strong skating, and a good compete level. But what shone through even more than these things was that he was both raw, and not ready to join Bruins regularly.

Carey is new to the Bruins organization, and has shown consistent production and reliability at the AHL level. However, he has seen time in just five NHL games this season, amassing zero points with zero goals, and zero assists. There is a lot more to hockey than point production. But Cehlarik has proven that he brings more than scoring, so the decision to go with an untested call-up inserted into the lineup when consistency and chemistry are at a premium is a real kick in the shin.

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Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/ AP

Moving forward.

I hope I’m wrong about the drawbacks of the recent activity between Providence and Boston. If I’m wrong, then we win.

Here’ the thing, though: I don’t think I’m wrong. I will be absolutely shocked if suddenly Trent Frederic and Paul Carey outshine Peter Cehlarik’s 200-foot game in their time with the Bruins.

If I’m right, then not only will the Bruins suffer, but they will have thrust more young prospects (Carey is not all that young) into the fire before they were ready. Confidence is a real thing that coaches and GM’s should be expected to manage, and if these prospects are treated with the same zero-tolerance policy that Cehlarik was, then we might see a tucking of tails among them.

In any case, it’s unreasonable to expect a player to find their groove in their first game or two. Unless that player is Dean Youngblood.

But even he was given a short leash by his coach.

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Bruins Assign Peter Cehlarik To Providence

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(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced this afternoon that forward Peter Cehlarik has been assigned to Providence, in addition to several other updates, including Connor Clifton and Paul Carey being recalled. The 23-year-old has split time between the big club in Boston and the Providence Bruins this season, having suited up in 20 games for Boston and 39 for Providence.

During his time with the Bruins this season, Cehlarik has 4/2/6 totals to go along with a plus-3 rating and six penalty minutes; with Boston’s AHL club, the Czech has totaled 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in addition to a minus-1 rating and eight penalty minutes. In 37 career games played in the NHL, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger has amassed 5/5/10 numbers on top of a plus-5 rating and eight penalty minutes.

“The time for him [Cehlarik] to get better is in Providence,” Cassidy said of the team’s decision to re-assign the winger. Cassidy also mentioned that, ideally, Cehlarik would stay and practice with the team; however, the way the schedule looks for the near future, the team felt the best option would be to send him down.

A third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (90th-overall), Cehlarik returns to a P-Bruins lineup that sits fourth in the Atlantic Division–two points off sole possession of third place–and is entering an important stretch of games as the team jockeys for position with the Calder Cup Playoffs creeping closer. With 41 goals and 49 assists for 70 points in 123 AHL games played, Cehlarik will look to return to his role as a key contributor for Providence as the team’s regular season draws to a close.

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Bruins’ Johansson Sustains Lung Contusion

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photo credit: Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins announced this evening that Bruins forward Marcus Johansson has sustained a lung contusion. Tuesday night in Boston, the newly acquired Johansson was injured during the first period of a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Johansson collided with Hurricanes wing Micheal Ferland immediately after dishing the puck to linemate Jake DeBrusk. Johansson would not return to the game after the hit.

As it turns out, Johansson was brought to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was admitted and stayed overnight for observation. The 28-year-old Swede suffered a lung contusion and will be re-evaluated by specialists in a week’s time. Cross your fingers, Bruins fans.

Johansson being sidelined for an extended period would be quite the blow against the Bruins’ postseason aspirations, but given the timeline announced by the team, that likely will not happen. MoJo has a history of concussions — one of them thanks to the antics of new teammate Brad Marchand — so there is almost definitely a feeling of relief in regard to today’s diagnosis.

As for the Bruins’ lineup in Johansson’s absence, expect Slovak wing Peter Cehlarik to continue to play right wing on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Cehlarik did an admirable job filling in for the injured Johansson for the remainder of the game against Carolina and is the best choice out of the options the Bruins have (Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes) to slide into Johansson’s roster spot.

With any luck, this will only be a temporary setback for Johansson and the Bruins. Acquiring him was a smart trade deadline move on Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s part, and he certainly has a lot to offer.  Let’s hope for a smooth recovery and return to the lineup.

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The Value of Peter Cehlarik Down the Bruins’ Homestretch

( Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker  |  Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

 

Similar to last year, late in the season the Bruins now again find themselves playing some of their best hockey in a time where securing a playoff spot is paramount. While they pose no threat to the Lightning in terms of contention for the Presidents’ Trophy, they do have an opportunity to build and secure the necessary chemistry with their post-deadline roster that will be instrumental to their postseason success. If their first couple games with new additions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson are any indication of the Bruins’ current state, then their ceiling is likely higher than any of us may have thought.

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The needs that Coyle and Johansson address for the Black and Gold are forward depth, and secondary scoring. Both players are proven contributors at the NHL level and bring strong skating, reliability, and even some playoff experience to a relatively young Bruins roster.

But what might be overlooked amidst the arrival of these deadline acquisitions is the homegrown talent that the Bruins’ development system has provided to the big club in Peter Cehlarik.

After a first half of the season where the absence of secondary scoring was excruciatingly apparent, questions were raised as to who would man David Krejci’s right side, and who would play with Danton Heinen on the third line.

Enter Cehlarik, in mid- January. Sure he’s been a regular in the lineup alongside Krejci during the Bruins’ recent stretch of brilliance where they’ve been able to, at the time of this writing, take points in 14 straight games. But I’m not one of those who would advocate that he remain in the lineup because of the team’s success. If he were playing horribly, I’d want him gone. But he hasn’t. So I don’t.

Cehlarik brings much more to the Bruin’s squad than taking up space near David Krejci in the musical chairs game that was the second line right wing. And, now that it looks like that spot might be best suited for Marcus Johansson, it becomes all the more important to acknowledge the depth of Cehlarik’s game.

At first glance, the most notable asset of Cehlarik’s is his frame. He’s a big boy, but not lost in his size is the grace with which he plays the wing. More than just a big body Bugatti, he’s a strong skater who is heavy on pucks and plays with the poise of a more experienced player. Cehlarik’s patience and puck possession lent themselves well to a forward core that was looking for maintained offensive zone time once 37, 88, and 63 got off the ice. Now, those traits only deepen the Bruins’ forward unit.

( Photo Credit: Rocky W. Widner/ NHL/ Getty Images )

There is no panic in Cehlarik’s game, and he’s shown that he can be effective on both the second line as a right winger or on the third line as a left winger. Now, with Coyle and Johansson joining the Bruins’, Bruce Cassidy essentially has 3 seriously versatile wings that can realistically slot in anywhere among his top 9 forwards. And not just slot in, but affect the game positively. With the B’s fourth line essentially set in stone, many might naturally assume that veteran David Backes or Joakim Nordstrom might be looked to as Coyle’s (for the time being) linemates on the third forward unit. If Cassidy is looking to maximize the effectiveness of his forward lines, playing either of these two would be a mistake.

Why not Backes?

Certainly fans of the Bruins’ will look at Backes’s contract and see that he has underperformed incredibly… so much so that it leaves someone like me wondering if they misplaced a decimal point somewhere in his contract.

At any rate, while Backes and Cehlarik both benefit from their size, Cehlarik has proven to be a significantly stronger presence in the offensive zone. While his scoring hasn’t blown anyone away, his PPG is higher than Backes, despite Backes having had almost an entire year to try and grace the scoresheet on the second powerplay unit. Cehlarik has proven to be both a stronger passer and a far more effective and creative playmaker than Backes. If Cassidy decides to play forwards who are oldest, then he should certainly play Backes over Cehlarik. However, if he decides to maximize the potential and effectiveness of his forward units, then expect to see Cehlarik in the lineup.

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What about Nordstrom?

While I don’t suspect that many people will be making a case for Nordstrom to be slotted into the Bruins top 9, there undoubtedly will be a few. These are likely the same fans that scream “SHOOT” as soon as the puck crosses the offensive blueline. It’s likely they’ve seen Nordstrom skate in a straight line and marveled at his speed. Don’t get me wrong, being fast is almost always a good thing. Unless you don’t know how to stop (See: Luis Mendoza, 1994 Junior Goodwill Games).

I don’t want to be cynical. I even liked Nordstrom in the lineup at the beginning of the season, when the Bruins would come out flat at times. He brought speed, energy, and in the eyes of this writer he is a strong shot blocker. There’s always room for guys that block shots on my teams. However, like Backes, Nordstrom’s bag of tricks have left him in “No Man’s Land” on a lineup of forwards that has become significantly deeper over the past month and a half.  He doesn’t possess the skill and poise that Cehlarik does, and his skating is not enough to counteract that fact.

( Photo Credit: Harry How/ Getty Images )

Homestretch

With all of that being said, I do like having two veteran forwards in the on-deck circle. And it’s easy to be objective about the displacement of said veteran forwards from behind a keyboard, and not in the locker room with them (both are, by all accounts, awesome teammates). But that’s exactly how putting together the best possible lineup should be done: objectively.

And who knows, with the injury troubles the Bruins have faced this season and for last year’s playoffs (*knocks on wood while crossing fingers, hoping the hockey Gods didn’t hear*), Backes and Nordstrom might be called upon to pinch hit.

But until that day comes, I say let Young Celery wheel and deal.

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Could The Bruins Have Matched An Offer On Stone?

(Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Image)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The prize of the NHL trade deadline has been dealt. Mark Stone ends up in Las Vegas with the Golden Knights. The cost? Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 2nd round pick.

Stone is well-regarded as one of the best two-way wingers in the entire league and is still just 26 years old. This season he has already set a career high in goals (28) and is two points away from his career high of 64. Another major factor about Stone is the fact that, soon after the trade went through, he signed an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The main piece the Senators got in return was 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom was drafted 15th overall in 2017 and is widely considered as an A+ level prospect. The general consensus during “TSN Tradecentre” was that Brannstrom is easily a top-ten prospect in the league right now.

The young Swede has played well in his first season in North America, totaling 28 points in 41 games in the AHL as a D-man. The year prior, he posted 15 points in 44 games playing as a kid against men in the SHL. Brannstrom has also had a lot of international success. Last year, he was paired with phenom Rasmus Dahlin on Sweden’s World Junior team and was a big reason why the team got to the finals. This past World Juniors, he led the Swedes in goals with four. While the comparisons to Erik Karlsson may be a bit far-fetched, there’s no question Brannstrom will develop into a great NHLer when the time comes.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Oscar Lindberg #24 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The only other player Vegas gave up was forward Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg hasn’t quite replicated his successful rookie season with the New York Rangers where he tallied 13 goals and 28 points in 68 games but has been a reliable two-way forward since then. At 27, he still has time to grow into a better player.

A lot of Bruins’ fans were salivating at the potential of Stone being in the black and gold, and there’s no doubting he would be a perfect fit for Boston, but the biggest problem was clearly the price. Seeing what Stone was able to get in return, what would be a similar return from the Bruins?

Despite having a great farm system, the Bruins don’t tout an A+ prospect like Brannstrom. The closest player to would be fellow 2017 1st rounder, Urho Vaakanainen. While Vaakanainen doesn’t have the offensive pedigree that Erik has, he is still a highly touted two-way defenseman with a ton of upside.

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports)

When Vaakanainen was drafted, Jamie Langenbrunner, Boston’s player development coordinator, had a lot to say about the young Fin. “I think Scott mentioned to me … which I thought was high praise for a guy that could effortlessly skate around the rink,” Langenbrunner said. “[Vaakanainen] seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that he kind of floats on his skates a little bit, and it’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach.” Any comparison to a Hall-of-Famer is a good thing.

The Bruins clearly think highly of the 20-year-old. When the Bruins D-core was riddled with injuries, the Bruins decided to call up Vaakainanen despite being just 19 at the time and within his first season in North America. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the defenseman as he suffered a concussion in just his second game in the NHL. When healthy. Vaakanainen went on to win the gold medal in this year’s World Juniors, tallying four assists in seven games with a +5 rating for team Finland.

Since Vaakanainen isn’t quite the player that Brannstrom projects to be, you’d think a pick would need to be added to even out their hypothetical values there. Maybe exchanging the 2nd rounder that Vegas gave up for a 1st and adding a lower pick, let’s say a 4th.

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

(Photo Courtesy Of CBS Boston – CBS Local)

So at this point, the deal is Stone for Vaakanainen, a 1st round pick, and a 4th round pick. I’m sure Ottawa wanted a roster player in return, preferably a younger player with a bit of room to grow (just as Oscar Lindberg was), so maybe a guy like Peter Cehlarik would also go the other way.

Cehlarik, 23, is a smart player with a great work ethic; however, he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. With that said, he has shown quite a bit of promise throughout his brief stint in the NHL. This season, he has four goals and six points in his 14 games with Boston.

So would a realistic offer for Mark Stone be Urho Vaakanainen, a 2020 1st, 2019 4th, and Peter Cehlarik? I’d say it’s pretty similar in value to what Vegas gave up, but I’m not sure either team would end up doing it. According to @BruinsNetwork on twitter, it was what Vegas offered, not what the Bruins didn’t in regards to Stone so maybe he was destined to never be a Bruin.

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Bruins Prospects Cehlarik And Kuhlman Sent To Providence

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins have made a few additions to the roster via trades in the last week to beat today’s 3pm EST. trade deadline and with those moves come sacrifices to facilitate roster availability. Today after making a trade with the New Jersey Devils which brought veteran forward Marcus Johansson the Bruins announced that prospect forwards Peter Cehlarik and Kardon Kuhlman have been returned to the Providence Bruins the clubs top minor-pro affiliate in the American Hockey League.

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Peter Cehlarik

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The 6′-2″ 203-pound Slovakian native has certainly racked up the miles this season traveling from Providence, Rhode Island to the Massachusetts State Capitol when recalled. Well, the former 2013 third-round selection of the B’s (90th Overall) is back on his way down south to join his AHL team where he’s spent a majority of this hockey season.  Cehlarik has played in 14 games for his parent NHL club and has chipped in offensively with 4-2-6 numbers in that timeframe and has 10-19-39 totals with Providence in 39 appearances.

Cehlarik is one of my favorite prospects lately for his versatility as a big rangy forward, but the way he’s developed in the AHL and always at the highest priority when emergency recalls or loan assignments happen. Peter has seen this type of up and down movement on the regular and should report to Providence with his head high and ready to get to work.  Although today was most likely an off-day because of the three games Providence played this past weekend, he should be involved in practice for the rest of the week and be ready before the team plays the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown PVD on Friday night.

If Peter actually remains with Providence for the remainder of the season, he will be a huge upgrade with 20 games to play as the B’s look for their seventh straight Calder Cup Playoff appearance, and they would certainly welcome back his hard work and leadership capabilities. He’s had a decent career in the AHL obviously producing more when it comes to points at the lower level.  He has 90 points in 123 career games in the AHL and 5-5-10 in 31 games for the NHL Bruins.

Karson Kuhlman

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Bruins NCAA scouting staff quickly took notice of Kuhlman’s speed and creativity with rumors of B’s having eyes going back to his Junior year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth possibly earlier as he posted 80 points in 166 career games. His best year by far of his collegiate career in the land of ten thousand lakes and growing up in nearby Esko, Minnesota was his senior year when he captained his Bulldog team to an NCAA Men’s Division 1 National Championship. After his final season which brought him his highest career goal total of 13, the Boston Bruins came down quickly from circling above like a hungry predator up in the air and signed him as an undrafted free agent to a two-year entry-level contract worth $140K in the AHL and $750K at the NHL level.

In his first season with the Providence club the 5′-11″ 185-pound forward has appeared in 50 games and has 12-13-25 numbers in that timeframe. Before his first-ever NHL recall, the 23-year-old went through a slight struggle only producing 2 points in six games. What I believe got the attention of head coach Jay Leach and ultimately a message to higher members in the Bruins management was his fantastic play through his career-high point streak where he produced 7-7-14 numbers in the previous 14 games before the aforementioned struggle before his recall and NHL debut.

In his first four NHL games, I thought the speedy forward played well and certainly caught the eye of Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy who put him in multiple situations and earning more confidence from the bench boss with increased minutes. His second career NHL game will be one he’ll never forget as the young forward got his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings. When talking about his minutes, it was really good to see that he went from under ten in his NHL debut to a little over 14 minutes in his final game against St. Louis before leaving for Providence.

Kuhlman’s addition moving forward with Providence is going to be important for both sides as he’ll continue to develop and be a key member in coach Jay Leach’s offensive arsenal with 20 games remaining to help seal a playoff spot. His speed and hockey IQ are something to watch when he possesses the puck, but he does a lot of great things off the puck that I was very surprised at with his transition from the NCAA to the AHL in his rookie season.

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Bruins Assign Forward Peter Cehlarik to Providence

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images )

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

On Wednesday, February 20, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that Peter Cehlarik would be assigned to the American Hockey League affiliate Providence Bruins.

This move is to clear a roster spot for the newly acquired Weymouth, MA native Charlie Coyle. Just before the Bruins took on the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night, the Bruins announced the trade that sent Bruins Forward Ryan Donato and a conditional 5th round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle.

Peter Cehlarik has also been battling a lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for the Bruins annual meeting at the Shark Tank in San Jose on Monday, February 18 that proved to be a thrilling 6-5 overtime win. Bruce Cassidy announced that Cehlarik was battling the injury and could have returned Wednesday in Las Vegas but targeted Saturday as a more realistic return date. This, however, all came before the Bruins made a move to acquire Charlie Coyle and could change the timing of Cehlarik’s return.

The Bruins needed to make a roster spot for Charlie Coyle, and with the recent injury to Cehlarik, it made sense to send Cehlarik down to Providence. It is likely that once Cehlarik is able to return to the lineup that he will be recalled again and another player such as Karson Kuhlman or Trent Frederic will be assigned to the AHL. Although, Kuhlman is making it hard for the Bruins to send him down as we get a glimpse of another young prospects bright future in the NHL. So, will we see more of Kuhlman in the future over Cehlarik? It is a tough decision that Cassidy will have to make.

Peter Cehlarik has played in 13 games for the Bruins this season since his call up in January. He has buried 4 goals and 2 assists for 6 points this season. He was slotted in nicely with David Pastrnak and David Krejci until Pastrnak injured his thumb and was replaced on the left wing with Jake DeBrusk.

Coyle should be available for the Bruins on Saturday when they take on the flaming hot Blues (32-22-5) who have won 11 straight games to propel them into 3rd place in the Central Division. It will be interesting to see what Bruce Cassidy decides if Peter Cehlarik is healthy for that game. Will he recall Cehlarik again and assign Kuhlman or Trent Frederic to the P-Bruins? If it were up to me, I would keep Kuhlman for the near future and send Frederic down to Providence. Kuhlman has shown a lot of speed and skill on the second line filling in for Cehlarik. He also buried a goal against the Sharks on Monday night.

If Peter Cehlarik comes back for the game against the Blues, and Charlie Coyle makes his Bruins debut, it will be interesting to see if Bruce Cassidy puts Cehlarik on the wing with Krejci and DeBrusk and puts Coyle on the 3rd line center position or Coyle on the 2nd line wing and Cehlarik on the 3rd line wing.

Overall, the Bruins are on a roll and are getting contributions up and down the lineup and have been rattling off 7 straight wins and look to continue the streak on Saturday.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: New York Islanders at Boston: 2/5/19

NHL: New York Islanders at Boston BruinsPhoto Courtesy Of NESN.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (28-17-7)

Away: New York Islanders (30-15-6)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Cehlarik-Krejci-DeBrusk

Kuraly-Acciari-Wagner

Nordstrom-Frederic-Backes

Defense

Chara-Carlo

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McAvoy

Goalies

Rask

Halak

New York’s Lineup

Forwards

Lee-Nelson-Eberle

Beauvillier-Barzal-Bailey

Dal Colle-Filppula-Komarov

Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

Defense

Leddy-Boychuk

Pelech-Pulock

Toews-Mayfield

Goalies

Lerner

Greiss

First Period

The game began after a ceremony to honor the New England Patriots as they celebrated their sixth championship with the Garden crowd. Just 18 seconds into the game, David Backes sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty which resulted in an Islanders power play. The Bruins killed the penalty despite a few scoring chances by the Islanders. The B’s struggled early as they tried to get their legs moving after a slow start.

A great shift by the first line gave the Bruins some offensive momentum in the middle stages of the period as they looked to find their footing. Brock Nelson took a hooking penalty behind the Boston net, resulting in the Bruins first power play of the night. The Islanders killed off the man advantage but immediately went back on the penalty kill as Ryan Pulock took a slashing penalty. The Islanders killed off the penalty as the Bruins failed to get any significant scoring chances.

The B’s would get yet another power play as Scott Mayfield dangerously cross checked Sean Kuraly into the end boards. The Islanders killed off the man advantage yet again as the Bruins failed to get any shots on goal.

Score: Tied 0-0

Second Period

The Bruins took the lead early in the second period as Patrice Bergeron (playing in his 1,000th game) buried a loose puck in front of the goal.

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The Bruins seemed to be more involved in the opening moments of the middle period as they got some decent scoring chances on Robin Lehner. The Islanders began to get an offensive rhythm in the second period as the Bruins became a little sloppy in their own zone. The Islanders got their second power play of the game as Brandon Carlo went off for tripping. The Bruins killed off the penalty as the Islanders got a couple scoring chances but Tuukka Rask stood tall.

Another huge save by Rask after a bad turnover kept the game scoreless as Number 40 absolutely robbed Matt Martin. The Islanders would pick up another power play as Chris Wagner took a slashing call. Jordan Eberle made the Bruins pay with a man advantage strike that somehow snuck through Rask.

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The first line responded with another strong shift and it nearly resulted in Bergeron’s second goal of the night but Lehner was up to the challenge.

Score: Tied 1-1

Third Period

The Bruins were scattered defensively in their own end in the first minutes of the final period as the Islanders pushes very hard for the go ahead goal. Another great answering shift by the top line gave the B’s the momentum they desperately needed after a slow start to the period. Cal Clutterbuck appeared to give the Islanders the lead but the goal was called back due to the play being offside.

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The Bruins would regain the lead as Peter Cehlarik scored off of a Kevan Miller rebound with just over 13 minutes to play.

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Rask and the Bruins defense had a great sequence complete with a bunch of quality stops by the goaltender and by Joakim Nordstrom who blocked two shots. Both teams got physical towards the conclusion of the game as they looked to impose their wills. With just over eight minutes to go, Matt Grzelcyk went to the box for tripping and slashing which resulted in a four minute power play for the Islanders. The Bruins killed both penalties to Grzelcyk as Rask and the B’s defense came up huge.

The Islanders pulled Lehner with about 1:15 to play and Bergeron iced it with 55 seconds to go as he got a great assist from Pastrnak who gave up the empty net for his teammate.

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Final Score: 3-1 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: No doubt about this one. Number 37 had a signature performance in his 1,000th game, scoring a pair of goals.

Second Star: Rask. The Bruin goalie had a strong night with 28 saves to preserve the victory and was especially outstanding in the final period.

Third Star: Cehlarik. He wasn’t spectacular but his goal in the third proved to be the game winner for the Bruins second straight victory.

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What Does The Jake Muzzin Trade Mean For The Bruins?

GettyImages-1062821856-1024x792.jpg

(Image: Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gotten their defenseman. News broke last night that the Leafs had acquired left-handed defenseman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi, and Toronto’s 2019 first round pick.

This move shows the world that general manager Kyle Dubas is serious about addressing the Leafs’ biggest issue, defense and that the Kings are on their way to a rebuild or retool of some sort.

Muzzin joins the Maple Leafs as a piece to their top-four defense that has been missing for years, instantly improving the team’s defense. The 29-year-old plays a heavy, responsible defensive game, but can move the puck up the ice nicely and chip in on offense with his booming slap shot. Assuming he slots in on the top pair with Morgan Rielly, guys like Ron Hainsey and Travis Dermott will be able to play roles better-suited to their skillsets.

Muzzin gives the Leafs flexibility, both in terms of roster make-up and the salary cap, since he can play either side anywhere in the top-four and carries a $4-million cap hit for this year and next. A Woodstock, Ontario, native and a Leafs fan growing up, Muzzin also brings playoff experience and knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup, having won with the Kings in 2014—these assets can be invaluable to a young, inexperienced team like Toronto.

So what exactly does all of this mean for the Bruins?

Well, for one thing, the Leafs addressed their most glaring issue, a defense that the Bruins have been able to expose on a regular basis recently, most notably in last year’s playoffs. So, a Bruins team that has well-documented scoring woes this season may find themselves having a much harder time scoring goals against the Leafs in a potential playoff matchup, at least on paper as of right now.

Another implication is that it may put pressure on Don Sweeney to go out and make a move that addresses the Bruins’ issues, most notably second line right wing, and third line center.

However, since the deadline is still a little under a month away, there is no immediate rush to go out and make a deal. After all, the organization has to have liked what it has seen from Peter Cehlarik so far at second line right wing. Also, not to be forgotten is the fact that the 29th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, 20-year-old Trent Frederic (10G, 7A in 37 games for Providence this season) is making his NHL debut on Tuesday night at third line center, centering Danton Heinen and his boyhood idol, David Backes.

Cehlarik and Frederic are seemingly the only possible in-house solutions left to fix the holes at these positions. If Cehlarik can keep up what he’s done (2G, 1A in three games) and Frederic is able to step in and make an impact, then there is no immediate need to go out searching for a trade–they’re still only a hot week away from catching right up to Toronto, mind you.

On the other hand, if “the Atlantic arms race is upon us” as Ty Anderson said, and these two players fail to make a meaningful impact going forward, then the Bruins cannot afford to stand idly by and not bring in a potential solution via trade if management feels they are truly in the mix for Cup contention this season.

As I talked about in a recent article, the Bruins have a couple possible courses of action they can take. First, the team can go for it and acquire a top-six, big-name winger, or they can simply make depth acquisitions if they like what they see in-house. If management feels that the team is not true contenders this season, they can stand pat, ride out the season, and take their chances with what they’ve got right now.

With reason to believe Kyle Dubas may not be done dealing just yet, considering he had all but told the league that the Leafs are going for it, Don Sweeney and company have some decisions they’ll need to make before 3:00pm on February 25th.

The Muzzin trade only gives Don Sweeney that much more to think about as the deadline creeps closer.

Trade season is upon us, folks! Buckle up.

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