A “Nifty” Accomplishment For Bruins’ Marchand!

Image result for brad marchand san jose sharks(Photo Credit: The Mercury News)

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

When shorthanded, one pesky player on the Boston Bruins is now as sure-handed as ever. In fact, you could say no one’s “niftier” now than Brad Marchand:

With his 25th career shorthanded goal, which came against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden on Tuesday, February 26th, Marchand tied recently retired-number honoree & Bruins HOF’er Rick “Nifty” Middleton for the all-time team lead in goals while a man down. It’s a record you don’t always think about when it comes to “points” in the game of hockey because of just how rare, and how hard, shorthanded goals are to come by. But in era where penalty killing is a top priority, there’s none better than No. 63 in Black N’ Gold.

As you can see from the tweet above, Marchand is not only in prestigious company when it comes to Bruins history, but also hockey history. His so-called “decade of dominance” (as just described) has put him among the most dangerous players on the ice no matter the time of game. But, as we’ve come to learn in Beantown, it’s especially true when the B’s are on the PK. To wit:

 

I remember sitting in section 303 in the top row for Game 3 of the Cup Finals back in ’11 when Marchand set the building ablaze with what could be the “niftiest” shorty in team history. Even then you knew that his ability with the puck shorthanded could put the fear in any opposing PP unit or goalie because if they weren’t careful, he was lighting the lamp at the other end of the ice for a 4-man celebratory scrum! The fact he continues to do that on a nightly basis–even if the numbers this year don’t quite match the highs of year’s previous–only proves that the pest joked about as being “a rat” may have a lot more of these highlight-reel goals in his nest.

Image result for brad marchand san jose sharks(Photo Credit: The Edwardsville Intelligencer)

To quote the highly-skilled and highly-respected B’s alumnus with whom he’ll soon pass for most shorthanded goals in team history, Mr. Middleton himself:

“When I got to Boston, I didn’t really understand the defensive side of the game… had to thank my coaches for that.

Then by the 80’s, I was the ‘go-to’ guy, playing 20-25 minutes a game — double shifts, the power play AND penalty killing.

Really, the only way I could have put up numbers like that was by getting the ice time.” — Rick Middleton on WAAF Radio, 8/6/18

So, if ice-time is any indicator of where Marchand could end up when all is said and done for his Bruins playing career–literally, a top line talent who plays in ALL game situations for the B’s just like Middleton did–then eclipsing No. 16 may not be the only accolade No. 63 will be remembered for.

For a guy his teammates call “Marchy,” that sure seems like a pretty “Nifty” accomplishment to me!

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

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Bruins Players & Alums Will Be “Busy B’s” Over Holidays!

Related image(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

‘Tis the season to “B” jolly and you can best believe the Bruins will be “busy B’s” when it comes to spreading joy to area girls & boys (and families & communities as a whole) this year. In fact, the organization just announced its 2018 holiday charitable initiatives, and as expected there’s no shortage of player and alumni involvement for all the festive fun planned.

Holiday Shopping Event

The entire B’s roster will storm the aisles of local stores on December 7th, purchasing toys and other enjoyable knickknacks for area children in need. Started by B’s Hall of Famer and former Captain Ray Bourque, the annual tradition has been a team favorite for years, where “each member of the team makes a donation which goes towards the purchasing of the toys, and the Boston Bruins Foundation matches the total team donation,” according to the recent release celebrating the season.

Image result for ray bourque bruins christmas(Photo Credit: Mass General Hospital)

The announcement goes on to mention that “toys purchased at the holiday toy shopping event will be delivered to over 600 children at hospitals around Boston who are unable to spend the holidays at home. The entire Bruins roster will visit various hospitals on Wednesday, December 12 to deliver the toys and spend time with patients.”

As you can see from previous social media clips, posts & pictures documenting this event in year’s past, there’s certainly no shortage of smiles & gratitude to go around. It perfectly “B”-fits the team (just like Torey Krug’s Christmas tree hat below)!

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

Festival Of Trees

Speaking of Christmas trees, O’ what a sight it’ll be for the players’ wives & girlfriends who will be organizing this special event for the second straight year. “The Bruins significant others will decorate mini Christmas trees with a variety of items such as autographed memorabilia, gift certificates, and favorite items of Bruins players,” all to benefit the Bruins Foundation as the team’s website mentions.

While David Backes certainly had a mini tree with some major goodies on it last year (as you can see from his tweet above), fellow teammates Zdeno Chara & David Krejci hope to continue the tree tradition triumphantly with some solid celebratory “ornaments” of their own this year!

“The Festival of Trees fundraiser will take place online at www.bruinsauctions.org and in-game at the Boston Bruins Foundation table located at Loge 4 on the TD Garden concourse during the December 16 and 20 Boston Bruins home games,” with more details regarding player specific trees coming soon, according to the foundation’s website.

Image may contain: text(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins Foundation)

Toys For Tots

Widely recognized around the country, and especially in Boston this time of year, is the very successful & meaningful Toys For Tots program, which “will be on hand at TD Garden at the Bruins home games on December 11, 16, and 20 to collect donated toys for children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for the holidays” as prominently noted by the release. Mark your Bruins calendar for these games, as I like to say, because even a small toy donation can make a big difference for a local child and family in need this holiday season (especially if it’s a figurine or ornament of a B’s player)!

Image result for bruins toys for tots(Photo Credit: Wilmington Apple)

And while on the subject of B’s players, Bruins legend and newly inducted team Hall of Famer Rick “Nifty” Middleton recently helped kick off the program’s holiday drive in Wilmington, MA, where he also posed for pics and signed autographs for all those making donations to benefit the local kiddos.

With additional events planned for not only the Boston Bruins Foundation, but also the Cam Neely Foundation all December, even if you can’t participate in any of the above festivities, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to score when it comes to giving back in honor of the Black N’ Gold this year.

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

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Bruins Game 25 Preview: New York Islanders

 

Krejci Islanders

Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will host the New York Islanders on Thursday. It is the first meeting the two teams will have this season.

It seems the story is always the same for the Bruins – their defense. Currently, Boston has Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Kevan Miller sidelined with injuries. Brandon Carlo skated this week but will not play Thursday but is considered likely for Saturday’s game. Combining all of this with Patrice Bergeron – the best two-way forward on the team (and arguably throughout the NHL) – missing time, you’d think the Bruins would be in over their heads.

The truth is, however, they haven’t been. Boston is ranked first in goals against with just 59 in 24 games to-date. This is despite having played a number of games less-than-or-equal-to 14 teams in the NHL this season. But there is a bigger story to be told on Thursday evening, and that story will soon be cemented in the rafters of the TD Garden.

Middleton’s Number Retirement Ceremony

Make sure you’re either at the Garden or on your couch by 6:30pm on Thursday as the Bruins will be celebrating the career of Rick Middleton by retiring his number before puck drop. Number 16 will be joining Bruins legends such as Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Milt Schmidt in the rafters.

 

It is a rare occasion that an organization puts a player’s number on the shelf for good, so you certainly don’t want to miss this.

Who’s Hot?

David Pastrnak currently shares a three-way tie for first place in goals scored with Patrick Laine and Jeff Skinner. Boston’s first-line right winger has potted 19 goals in 24 games. Two of these goals came in the Bruins’ most recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old is making opposing general managers wonder why they didn’t pick him earlier in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Pastrnak was the 25th selection, after all, but is playing more like a top-10 pick.

In his last nine games, Mathew Barzal has two goals and six assists. He is currently second on the Islanders in production with 20 points in 23 games. The 21-year-old has been charged with the difficult task of filling the skates of John Tavares who of course left the team in pursuit of free agency and was subsequently picked up by the Maple Leafs. Barzal has shown his age, however, in being a minus-11 despite not seeing time on the penalty kill.

Barzal Bruins

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Josh Bailey has been aiding Barzal in filling the void Tavares left when he packed his bags for Toronto. The winger has seven goals and 14 assists in 23 appearances. However, Bailey has gotten just seven shots on goal in his last five games, scoring just a goal and an assist.

Who’s Not?

Anders Bjork has continued to struggle – so much so that he has been taken out of the lineup. It seems that the youngster’s biggest issue has been finding his role. He has been skating on Boston’s third line but has struggled in fulfilling the duties expected of such a position – namely defense and secondary scoring. In one instance in the game against Toronto, Bjork took a bad tripping penalty and the Leafs went on to score on the ensuing power play. Bjork has since been sent down to the AHL to play with the Providence Bruins. Many wonder how soon he will return to the NHL after as Ryan Donato, who spent time in Providence this season, has since been called back up to Boston.

New York’s power play has been something the Islanders would like to forget. The team has gone 0-for-11 with the man advantage in their last five games. It has been an emphasis for the team leading up to their game against Boston – it will be interesting to see what they can come up with. Due to the injuries on the back end as well as to Bergeron, the Bruins’ penalty kill isn’t at it’s best. This is a prime time for the Islanders to put an end to their power play blues.

Bruins vs. Islanders Outlook

The Bruins are 3-1-1 in their last five games and will be looking to continue their climb up the Atlantic Division Standings with a win against the Islanders. There is currently a gap of five points between Boston and the top-three teams within their division, but with games in hand, that difference feels more narrow.

As stated before, the power play will be key for New York. During the time their special teams unit has been shut out, the Islanders have gone 2-3-0. Tuukka Rask will be getting the start, so it will be up to him and Boston’s weathered penalty kill to ensure that New York doesn’t solve their power play woes just yet.

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

Click Here For 2018-19 Boston Bruins Regular Season Games and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Bruins Prospects Keyser & Studnicka’s Recent Contributions In The OHL

      ( Photo Credit:  Both Images Above Courtesy Of Aaron Bell / OHL Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

A Little History……..

The Oshawa Generals are currently playing in their 56th season since rejoining the Ontario Hockey League in 1962. Per Wikipedia, the organization’s roots go back to the 1937-38 season and continue to 1953 before a fire at their home rink forced to club to take a ten-year leave of absence from the league. The Boston Bruins played a key role in the resurrection of the Generals club and new Oshawa Civic Auditorium construction which opened in 1964.

Again, Per Wikipedia, Bruins President at the time Weston Adams would go on to oversee the construction of the new arena and manage the Oshawa team as a Bruins minor-league affiliate having access to legendary B’s player Bobby Orr. Former Bruins legends Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly played for Oshawa in the late 1960s and early 1970s before their NHL careers, and Marc Savard was also a member of the Oshawa club in the early to mid-1990s and had a successful junior career for himself.

Present Day

Jumping ahead to the start of the 2018-19 regular season for the Generals club, things were a bit shaky as seen below from Twitter account Generals Live ( @GeneralsUpdates ) below, the team struggled to start but have really made some noise gathering 14 points in their last 17 games since October 16th. The Gens are now in second place in the Eastern Conference 10 points behind the Ottawa 67’s who are having an outstanding season so far with 42 points in 26 games played.

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Two Boston Bruins prospects currently playing with the Oshawa club are contributing at career-high paces and have been key members to the team’s recent success. Since being returned from their respected Boston Bruins training camps, prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser and forward Jack Studnicka have been pleasant additions to a very sneaky Gens team. Many highly respected analyst that cover the league has mentioned the Generals could be a “dark horse” club that could be head turners this season regardless of their slow start.  Below is a little more insight and my personal opinion from what I’ve seen thus far this year and what’s to be expected in the future from both B’s prospects.

Goaltender Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )

Definitely, one of my favorite goaltending prospects to watch with his agility and athleticism. At 6′-2″ 183-pounds he’s aggressive netminder that is often at the top of his crease commonly cutting down his angles and squaring his body to the puck. Often these days, well in my opinion anyway, goaltenders above his height or equal to play deeper in the net while Keyser plays out relying on his quick lower body reflexes to get where he needs to be laterally. His quickness and reaction time is second to none and with those attributes has acquired an increasingly better-developed glove hand that seems to be getting better year-by-year with his puck tracking ability.

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The 2017-18 season was Keyser’s breakout year as a starter, and with his free agent signing with the Boston Bruins in the fall of 2017 shortly after the Vegas Golden Knights waiver claim of former B’s first-round prospect Malcolm Subban, Kyle has seemingly taken the umbrella of the B’s organization to a whole new level. In the aforementioned breakout year, he went 28-13-2 with a 3.16 goals-against-average, and .904 save percentage which had him ranked ninth overall in the OHL. A solid season nonetheless minus the two concussions he battled during the last season’s campaign which could’ve had major setbacks in his development.

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This year Kyle started the 2018-19 season on the shelf nursing an injury from Bruins training camp but as soon as he was cleared to play his mission has been focused on improving and helping his Generals team all he can as the last line of defense. In 18 games played so far the Coral Springs, Florida native has a 12-3-1 record, a 2.43 GAA and .929 Save% which is ranked third overall in the OHL. Keyser is currently on a five-game winning streak which he tied of a season-high this year and is one win away from tying a career-best six-game winning streak. Kyle has the chance to tie his career-high string of “W’s” tomorrow afternoon when the Generals host the Sarnia Sting from the Tribute Communities Centre when the puck drops at 2pm.

Forward Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )

Determination is a word that I constantly think about when talking about Jack and the skill set he brings to so many levels of competitive developmental hockey. As a guest media member during the offseason’s development camp to rookie camp and NHL training camp participation, being close to Studnicka in that timeframe has allowed me to get a sense of what type of player he can be while presenting himself in a professional manner. From the Bruins training facility at Warrior Ice Arena Jack’s efforts and drive can be seen up close along with the surrounding voice of reason from supporting members such as Bruins training staff for on and off-ice training sessions during the offseason.

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Having the opportunity to interview Studnicka on several occasions, he’s said he’s here to challenge for an NHL roster spot and will continue to showcase his skills with close up looks from the B’s brass whenever possible. All those attributes were on full display as the team was heavily considering a spot as a third-line center but elected to return him to his junior team in favor of further development. This move back to Oshawa was not a knock against his development moving forward but was a smart idea when looking at his American Hockey League eligibility and the potential of starting his NHL career as close as next year.

Studnicka had a career year last season posting 22-50-72 in 66 games and is already on pace to break those totals this year. After being returned to Oshawa from Bruins camp, he’s appeared in 23 games and has 9-21-30 numbers. He’s currently on a five-game point streak which he can extender to six-games with a tilt tomorrow afternoon against Sarnia. So far this season the highly touted center has only gone pointless five times this season and in his last ten games has 3-9-12 numbers in that timeframe.

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This year Generals Head Coach Greg Walters has used Jack’s skills all over the lineup with him playing a majority of time in the top-six but often as low as the third line when matching up pre-game lineups. Regardless of what line he plays on his speed and the two-way game is impressive to watch. I wish I were close to seeing him play games live, but I’ve been fortunate enough to stream about 60 games since leaving the Draft podium in the summer of 2017. Great 200-foot game and high hockey IQ in tight situations. Big slap shot playing the point on the power-play acting like a quarterback with a man advantage and unreal release in front of the net.

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The 6′-2″ 179-pound forward took his demotion back to his Junior Club as a positive with the mindset that the journey to conquering his life-long goal was not yet over. In an October 1st, 2018, an article from Brain McNair of the DurhamRegion.com website, Studnicka had these things to say below upon his return back to the historic OHL franchise.

“It was awesome, they’re fast, you’ve got to keep up with them,” Studnicka said. “I think of myself as fast, but it really helped me to kind of be fast 24-7 and keep moving because those two are obviously two of the most skilled wingers in the game, but they’re also two of the hardest workers.”

Studnicka on working alongside current Boston Bruins player Patrice Bergeron.

“He’s an older guy, but you wouldn’t know it. He interacts with all the young guys due to his leadership, and it’s something I want to bring back to our room,” he said of Bergeron. “A lot of guys that get caught in my situation are going to hang their head and kind of walk through juniors, but I’m going in with my head held high here and I’m going to do everything I can to help the team succeed.”

Some word from Generals Head Coach Greg Walters on his return back to the league and organization.

“As you can see, his skill set is off the charts,” Walters said after Studnicka’s two-goal, four-point night in Sunday’s home opener against North Bay. “He’s a great leader, a true professional in the way he acts in the dressing room and in practice. We haven’t seen the best of Jack Studnicka yet.”

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Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGaint for your next Oshawa Generals home or road game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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My Chat With Bruins Legend Rick Middleton

 

usatsi_5153514( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On November 29th, just five days from now, the Boston Bruins will raise another number to the rafters. This one will be the 11th number to be retired in the history of the franchise, founded in 1924. The first ever number to be retired was Lionel Hitchman’s number three back in 1934, and the most recent number to be raised to the rafters was Cam Neely’s number eight in 2004. The latest addition to this legendary group is quite a “Nifty” guy. All joking aside, Rick Middleton will have his number 16 raised to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony prior to the Bruins matchup with the New York Islanders next Thursday.

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Middleton is fourth on the all-time scoring list in Bruins history with 988 points amassed in 12 seasons in black and gold. Only Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, and Phil Esposito had more points in their legendary Bruins careers. Middleton is one of only three players to score at least 400 goals in his career in Boston. Born a Leafs fan in Toronto, Middleton broke into the league as a 21-year-old for the New York Rangers, totaling 22 goals and 18 assists in just 47 games. Traded to the Bruins in 1976, Middleton scored 20 goals and added 22 assists in his first season in Boston. Middleton’s best statistical season came in 1983-84 when he scored a career-high 105 points on 47 goals and 58 assists. Middleton had more than 40 goals five times in his career, and impressively, he did it in five consecutive seasons with a high of 51 in 1981-82. It is also worth noting that Middleton is one of about 320 players who have played in more than 1,000 games in their careers.

Middleton played for six coaches during his Bruins career, from Don Cherry to Terry O’Reilly and a few in between. The Bruins made three appearances in the Stanley Cup Final during Middleton’s time in Boston, twice in his first two seasons and then in his final season. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost each time, twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Edmonton Oilers. Perhaps the most infamous moment during Middleton’s career happened on December 23rd, 1979, the night Mike Millbury beat a fan with his shoe at Madison Square Garden. Three Bruins were suspended and fined, but fortunately, no blood was spilled.

Middleton was a three-time All-Star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1982 as the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Middleton holds a few league records as well, including most points ever recorded in one playoff series and the most assists ever recorded in a playoff series. Middleton scored exactly 100 points in his postseason career in 114 games. Middleton finished just 12 points shy of 1,000 points for his career, but his legacy will be remembered forever when his number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters next week.

You can listen to my full interview with Rick Middleton on the link below

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

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Bergeron Adds To Home Opener History for Bruins!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

It’s officially 🎩🎩🎩’s off to No. 37, Patrice Bergeron, on recording his 4th career Hat Trick for the Boston Bruins during their 6-3 W over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Monday, Oct. 8.

Now, why does the date & location need mentioning? I mean, it really doesn’t matter when or where a player gets a “hattie” because it’s always worth celebrating, am I right? Well, it’s because the B’s Assistant Captain (or Co-Captain as I like to rightfully call him) made the franchise record books with his impressive 3-goal game on “Opening Day” in Boston.  That’s right … only a handful of Bruins in the history of the team have ever lit the lamp thrice during the Home Opener. And, oh, what a list it is to be on for Bergeron!

CARSON COOPER – 11/16/1926

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The 1926 Boston Bruins season began at home versus the soon-to-be arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. And thanks to Carson Cooper (not Claude) consistently connecting in the 4-1 contest, the B’s clocked the score sheet more times than a clean copper clapper kept in a closet can clang! For anyone who doesn’t get this alliterative reference, look no further than below. (photo credit: Flickr)

PHIL ESPOSITO – 10/10/1973

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It would take the B’s almost 50 years before another Home Opener Hattie (H.O.H.) and it probably surprises no one that it came at, and on, the hands of the Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. Known for his scoring prowess, ‘Espo’ helped the B’s best the Canucks in a 6-4 win where offense was on display practically the whole game. The same can be said for his illustrious Bruins career — one in which he recorded 32 hat tricks between 1967 and 1975. How’s that for a dominating stretch of hockey that truly deserves a bit of sports illustration? (photo credit: Sports Memorabilia)

RICK MIDDLETON – 10/7/1976

Image result for rick middleton bruinsThere was nothing niftier than Rick “Nifty” Middleton scoring multiple times during a game. And he got the Gahhhden rockin’ in early October of 1976 when his hat trick propelled the B’s over the then Minnesota North Stars 6-2. Speaking of stars, Nifty was a bona fide B’s one his whole career wearing the spoked-B. (photo credit: NHL.com)

CAM NEELY – 1/22/1995 & 10/07/1995

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I don’t know how Beckett Hockey Monthly could’ve put a price on Cam Neely because his talent was truly priceless. And in 1995, the price was right (unlike for the Red Sox) TWICE as Neely notched quite the achievement on his Bruins’ belt. He garnered hat tricks in two separate Home Openers during the same calendar year since the start of the ’94 season was locked out until January.  Then, like clockwork, the ’95 season rolled around in October. So, Neely’s three goals in a 4-1 W versus Philly on 1/22 and three goals in a 4-4 T versus the Isles on 10/07 prove to be the best out-of-the-gate offensive outbursts to start a season in hometown hockey history. (photo credit: comc.com)

PATRICE BERGERON – 10/08/2018

Image result for patrice bergeron hat trickAfter a highlight-filled skate down B’s home-opener-history lane, let’s “B Inclusive” just like the team’s campaign with the MA Special Olympics that debuted this October 8th and welcome Patrice Bergeron as the 5th official member of the H.O.H. club. His perfectly placed and timed three goals against the Sens got the TD Garden crowd ready for action all season long in the best way possible. After all, he was adding to the “Home Opener History for the Bruins!” (photo credit: Boston Globe)

Bruins Retired Numbers: Possible Next-In-Line Candidates

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

Recently, the Boston Bruins announced that Rick “Nifty” Middleton will join the likes of Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, Milt Schmidt and all the other retired numbers along the rafters inside of the TD Garden.

Middleton was one of the best goal-scorers in Bruins history, finishing his career ranked third-most in goals as well as the fourth-most points scored over all of the former Bruin players. Without question, Middleton deserves to have his number retired and according to many, the decision to raise his banner to the rafters was long overdue.

One of the fortunate things of cheering for an Original Six franchise in the National Hockey League is that your team most likely has countless players who can be considered ‘great’ and the Boston Bruins are no different. Since joining the league back in 1928, the B’s have had some of the best players skate with the Spoked-B on their chest, (or a bear, depending on the era).

Following my article on Middleton’s number being retired on November 29th, I came across the thought – who’s next? By which I mean, what Bruin will be the next to have their unique number forever retired by the organization. Gerry Cheevers, Tiny Thompson, Wayne Cashman, and other Bruins could have their name in the conversation, but so could current Bruins such as Zdeno Chara or Patrice Bergeron. It is nearly inevitable that those two will gain the legendary status, but will one of them be the next one?

So within this article, I’ll go over three players who I believe could have their number retired by the Boston Bruins and you can feel free to voice your personal thoughts and opinions regarding the matter. The players listed will be in no particular order, just the three most-likely in my own opinion. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Gerry Cheevers – #30

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JOHN BLANDING/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 1980)

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario back in 1940, Gerry Cheevers is one of the most iconic goaltenders in Bruins history and even of all-time. With the legendary stitched mask that nearly every single hockey fan who has been watching for any amount of time has at least heard of or seen Cheevers’ mask.

Playing with the Bruins during the era of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and company, Cheevers often went under the radar when it comes to the Bruin superstars of the early 1970’s. Gerry was monumental to both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup wins, going a combined 18-3 throughout both postseasons.

Before the Cups, Cheevers was still considered one of the best to play the position at the time. After some subpar and some decent years between 1965-66 and 1967-68, Cheevers would find real success for the first time in the ’68/’69 campaign, where he finished the year with a 27-12-13 record, but only a .911 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.80. During the playoffs of the same year, Cheevers went 6-3-0, winning with three shutouts. The Bruins would lose to the Canadiens in the semi-finals, but the dominance and skill of Cheevers were noticed.

The following season, in 1969-1970, Cheevers had an amazing 24-8-8 record once the season came to a close, four of the wins being shutouts. Cheevers holds the NHL record for longest undefeated streak as a goalie (32 games, 24-0-8). Of course, the postseason for the Bruins that year was as historical as historical gets. Bruins only lost two games during the entire postseason, including sweeps over the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Bobby Orr would score his famous Flying Goal in the final game against the Blues, and Gerry Cheevers would go 12-1-0.

For the next two seasons, Cheevers would continue his domination between the posts, producing a 54-13-13 record in the two years combined. As we all know it, the Bruins would have another successful season in the 1971-72 season, winning their second Stanley Cup in three years. Cheevers would help with the Cup victory with six wins and only two losses over the course of the playoff rounds.

In the summer of 1972, however, Gerry would leave the National Hockey League and sign a seven-year, $1.4 million contract in the World Hockey Association (WHA) with the Cleveland Crusaders. It was believed that this would his final contract of his career, but instead, he would request a buyout after the fourth year and would return to the Bruins to play for the majority of the next four campaigns.

Gerry never cared about his own statistics, once saying that he doesn’t care how many goals he allowed, as long as the Bruins scored one more. The shutouts and trophies were not a big deal to him, just the Stanley Cup. He finished his career with one of the best win/loss ratio in the playoffs (53-34). Cheevers retired in 1980 following knee problems. Below is a paragraph from the Hockey Hall of Fame website about how Cheevers became known for his iconic mask.

“During practice in the 1968-69 season, he began what was to be his most famous trademark – painting stitches on his mask to indicate where a puck had hit him. “I was trying to get out of practice one day,” he explained, “when this shot that couldn’t have broken an egg hit me in the mask. I faked a serious injury and went into the dressing room. I was sitting there having a Coke when Harry Sinden came in and told me to get back out onto the ice. All the guys were laughing, so I knew I had to do something. I told the trainer to paint a 30-stitch gash on the mask. Then I went out and told Harry, See how bad it is!” In ensuing years, he periodically added more scars, and his mask became a symbol of the first generation of mask-wearing goalies demonstrating the safety of face protection.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

Patrice Bergeron – #37

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This one may be a tad bit too soon to bring into the discussion as Bergeron still plays in the NHL to this day. It is nearly guaranteed that one day Patrice Bergeron will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame and will have his number up with the greatest Bruins to ever wear the sweater. The question is, will he be the next player to have his number retired?

Probably not is the quick answer to that, but there is a slight possibility that Bergeron could beat out the likes of Gerry Cheevers or any other already-retired Bruin to get his name and number on a banner in the TD Garden.

Regarded by many as the best two-way forward in the league right now, Bergeron has prided himself on not only being good offensively but also responsible in his own end. Not a single player in NHL history has more Frank J. Selke Trophies than Bergeron, who is tied with Canadiens’ legend Bob Gainey with four trophies each.

Bob Gainey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and has his number retired by Montreal on February 23rd, 2008. He had a career plus/minus rating of +201, scored 239-262-501 totals in 1160 career games. Gainey scored 34 game-winning goals and had 585 penalty minutes.

If we use Bergeron as a comparison to Gainey, Bergeron seems to overtake Gainey regarding production. In only 963 career games, Patrice has 289-445-734 totals and a +155 rating. He has 59 game-winning goals and 366 penalty minutes. Bergeron also has an insane takeaways-to-giveaways ratio, currently possessing 510 takeaways and only 270 giveaways.

There is only one main thing that Gainey has over Bergeron – four more Stanley Cup rings. However, Bergeron has more points (86) in fewer playoff games (112) than Bob Gainey (73 points in 182 playoff games). While offense does not necessarily mean one player is better than another, it sure makes a difference when both players have equal trophies for best defensive forward in the league.

While Patrice leads in certain categories, the categories he does not lead he can make up for. At only 33-years-old, Bergeron has a few more years remaining in his career, and the stats will only increase. Already, Bergeron is seventh all-time in points by a Boston Bruin, only 54 behind Wayne Cashman for sixth.

Bergeron represents not only what it is like to be a Boston Bruin, but what it is like to be a hockey player. From playing with a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscle tissue, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, to mentoring the future players of the organization on and off the ice. An almost certain future captain once current captain Zdeno Chara retires, Bergeron deserves to have his #37 retired, but will he be the next one – that’s the question.

Zdeno Chara – #33

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara is also one of the current players on this list that will most likely have his number raised to the rafters in the TD Garden. The tallest player in NHL history has made a name for himself in this league for two things – his hard shot and being the captain to end the 39-year Cup drought in Boston.

A former third-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Chara has gained a reputation for being a tall, scary force to all opposing players or teams. Since joining the Bruins in 2006, he would play the sixth-most games in a Bruins sweater (893).

As soon as he signed his five-year, $37,500,000 contact with Boston, he was handed the task of wearing the prestigious ‘C,’ becoming the new captain of the B’s, a position held by Joe Thornton for the previous three seasons and he would not disappoint. The five-year span, scoring 68-164-232 totals in the 398 games, not to mention five All-Star Game appearances and a James Norris Memorial Trophy in the 2008-09 season.

As we all remember so vividly, Chara would finish the contract by lifting the Stanley Cup above his head in June of 2011. However, the Bruins did not want to prolong the extension of Chara, as they had already agreed to a seven-year contract, a deal that would come into effect in 2011-12.

In 495 games on the new contract, Chara scored seventy goals, 151 assists for 221 points and a +124 rating as well as just shy of 1000 hits in the time span alone, tallying 960 bone-crushing hits total in the seven years. While the point totals for Chara never reached his career-high of fifty-two set back in the 2011-12 season, he would consistently produce 20+ points, with the exception of the 2012-13 lockout season, where he tallied only nineteen.

Following a one-year contract extension this past March, the 41-year-old is guaranteed to play one more season in the National Hockey League. If he retires after the season and playoffs conclude, he may just find himself atop the list for the next Bruin to have their number retired. Below are some of Chara’s top career accolades.

  • 1x Stanley Cup (2011)
  • 1x James Norris Memorial Trophy (2008-2009)
  • 1x Mark Messier Leadership Award (2010-2011)
  • 3x NHL First All-Star Team (2003-04, 2008-09, 2013-14)
  • 4x NHL Second All-Star Team (2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 5x All-Star Game Participant (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 3x Golden Puck Winner as Best Slovakian Player (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 2x Silver Medal at IIHF Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships with Slovakia (2000, 2012)
  • Hardest Slap Shot as of June 7th, 2018 (108.8 mph set at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game)

These are only three players that could have their number retired next. Sure, Chara and Bergeron’s number retirement could be well into the future, considering how long it took to get Middleton’s number raised. Gerry Cheevers, however, could be the next player recognized by the organization and receive the honor. Who do you feel gets their number retired next by the Boston Bruins? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Boston Bruins To Retire Rick Middleton’s Number On November 29th

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PHOTO CREDITS: (B&W Negative)

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

Officially announced on July 31st, 2018 by the Boston Bruins’ Twitter page, (@NHLBruins), Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton’s #16 will be retired by the Bruins organization and will join the legends of the franchise in the rafters of the TD Garden.

Middleton played in 881 career regular season games with the Boston Bruins from 1976 to 1988, posting 402-496-898 numbers in that time span. However, before joining the Bruins in the ’76 season, Richard played two seasons with the New York Rangers before being traded to the B’s in exchange for Ken Hodge.

In his time with the Rangers, Middleton did not quite live up to the scoring expectations that were placed on him following his insane scoring statistics in the OHA, scoring 207 points in 115 games. While in the Big Apple, Middleton peaked at fifty points in the 1975-76 campaign, thus causing the trade to the Bruins. (The trade was recently featured in an article published by fellow BNG writer, Liz Rizzo, that discussed the best Bruins trades of all-time.)

For the first two seasons in Boston, Rick Middleton was still considered an average player, scoring 42 and 60 points in the ’76/’77 and ’77/’78 campaigns respectively. It was not until the 1978-1979 season where Middleton truly showed his scoring talent and would lay the foundation for the remainder of his career – finishing the year with 38-48-86 totals.

During the six seasons that would follow, Middleton would score at least thirty goals, including a career-high 51-goal campaign in 1981-82. In that same season, Middleton would take home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, signifying him as the most gentlemanly player in the league. Two seasons later, Nifty would score the most points in his career, tallying 105 points during the ’83-’84 year.

Rick possessed great skill and threatened most goaltenders – especially in one-on-one scenarios. A former teammate of Middleton, Wayne Cashman, said the following about his time with Middleton in the National Hockey League.

“He was the most exciting one-on-one player in hockey when he was in his prime”- former teammate Wayne Cashman

Middleton’s career playoff resume is nothing to ignore as well. In 111 playoff games with the Bruins, Middleton scored one-hundred points (45-55-100), including thirty-three points in only seventeen games during the 1982-1983 post-season.

According to Wikipedia.com, Middleton currently holds four records in the NHL history books.

  • Most Points in One Playoff Series (19)
  • Most Assists in One Playoff Series (14)
  • Highest Playoff Point-Per-Game Average in one Post-Season by a Right-Winger (1.94)
  • Highest Playoff Assists-Per-Game Average in one Post-Season by a Right-Winger: (1.29)

Rick Middleton’s #16 will join the likes of Eddie Shore (#2), Lionel Hitchman (#3), Bobby Orr (#4), Dit Clapper (#5), Phil Esposito (#7), Cam Neely (#8), Johnny Bucyk (#9), Milt Schmidt (#15), Terry O’Reilly (#24), and Raymond Bourque (#77) in the TD Garden rafters in a game against the New York Islanders on November 29th, 2018.

Boston Bruins President Cam Neely and CEO Jeremy Jacobs had some words today about the retirement of Middleton’s number.

Congratulations to Richard Middleton on this outstanding honor and the newest retired jersey is well deserved up there in with the other Boston legends.