Jake DeBrusk Embodies What It Means To Be A Boston Bruin

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(Photo Credit: Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

By Jacob Albrecht | Follow me on Twitter @bruinsfan3725

Every postseason has its heroes. Some of them are unexpected heroes that come up with a big hit, an important shot block or a huge goal when it is needed most. The Bruins are no stranger to this fact and over the years have had numerous guys show up in the most critical moments in the most critical games. Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Patrice Bergeron, and Torey Krug are a few that come to mind.

This spring, there’s a new hero rising the ranks and making history while wearing the Spoked B.

Rookie winger, #74 Jake DeBrusk

As a  first-round draft pick in 2015, DeBrusk finally broke the Bruins roster this season, and impressively scored his 1st NHL goal in his NHL debut against the Nashville Predators. His strong rookie season helped propel the youthful Bruins into the playoffs as the number 2 seed in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Playing alongside David Krejci and Rick Nash on the 2nd line throughout the playoff run, DeBrusk has impressed in a multitude of ways, not only scoring 6 goals and adding 2 assists for a total of 8 points through 10 playoff games so far. Strong numbers for a 21-year-old rookie, but what’s more impressive is when those goals have been scored.

Easily his most important goal of the playoffs so far was the game-winning goal in game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 25th, 2018.

(Via @PeteBlackburn on Twitter)

His 2nd goal of the game, it ended up clinching the series for the Bruins and without his intensity and drive the final 20 minutes of game 7 could have looked very different (and much more low-scoring).

DeBrusk has been one of the Bruins’ best and most consistent players in the playoffs, bringing the same effort and intensity on every shift in every game. That has shown throughout his play, especially on the goals he’s scored, but it also shines through in his celebrations.

(Via @PeteBlackburn on Twitter)

Grabbing the Spoked B on his chest proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that this kid loves playing for this team, his teammates, his coaches, and of course the city of Boston. His passion and intensity has impressed the most. His compete level never dips, and it’s clear that throughout the regular season and playoffs that he’s earned the trust and faith of his teammates and coaches.

Maybe DeBrusk’s strongest shift of the playoffs so far came in game one against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 28th, 2018. Here’s his mammoth of a change in the defensive zone.

This sequence of taking a hard hit, blocking a shot and diving desperately to get the puck out of his own zone can only be described as all heart. A shift like that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet at the end of the game, but fans, teammates and coaches alike notice plays like these. Not once did Jake DeBrusk give up on this shift, it’s clear he wasn’t even thinking about the bench until he cleared the puck.

That is what it means to be a Boston Bruin. Fighting for every inch, never giving up on a play, coming in clutch when it matters most, playing with unmatched heart and the will to win no matter what.

Jake DeBrusk has the heart of a lion, plays the game like a Bruin should, and he likely will have an extra letter on his sweater in short order.

Lineup Shifting Could Be Beneficial For The Bruins Going Forward

 

Image result for ryan donato

(Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder/USA Today Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

It is no secret that the Bruins were out of wack at certain times throughout games two and three. Part of this funk they have been in has come because the second and third lines just haven’t been themselves.

(Via @bruins_stats on Twitter)

It gets to a point where Bruce Cassidy is going to need to mix things up to get better results. Tommy Wingels slotting in for Tim Schaller won’t do that. Change should start with the second and third lines who just haven’t been performing well on both sides of the puck. The Bergeron line has shown the capability to carry the team, but that just simply won’t happen every game. Getting used to relying on them when the rest of the team can’t score would be very counterproductive.

The defense could use some minor changes as well. Not necessarily in terms of subbing anyone out, but rather shifting the pairings a bit.

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Donato

Heinen-Backes-Rick Nash

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid

Grzelcyk-Miller

Goalies

Rask

Khudobin

This is how I see it. The second line hasn’t been converting on their scoring chances, that’s where Ryan Donato comes in. Despite scoring two goals in game one, Rick Nash just hasn’t been effective enough to warrant top-six minutes. Giving a hungry, young, dynamically skilled player looking to prove himself in the playoffs in Ryan Donato could give that line the spark that it needs right now.

As for the third line, Riley Nash just simply hasn’t been cutting it for the majority of the playoffs. Although I do have my doubts that Bruce Cassidy will actually sub him out, I still think he should. Moving David Backes to the center position, sitting Riley Nash, and putting Rick Nash in Backes’ spot would give the line a nice change of pace and give Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper something new to gameplan for.

The final change in the forward core would just be to swap Tim Schaller back in for Tommy Wingels. Schaller has been a solid fourth-line fix and penalty killer all year and has just been more effective all around than Tommy Wingels. Both are similar players and play similar roles, I just think Tim Schaller does things a little better is all.

With the defensive core comes reuniting Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid. The pairing has had its ups and downs in the past, but they are experienced with one another and compliment each other well. The differing skill sets that they possess that allow them to take care of all three zones.

Tuukka Rask hasn’t been perfect, but he has made some huge saves when they were desperately needed. The team around him hasn’t been perfect, so keep him in the blue paint. Tuukka’s the head honcho.

The odds of this lineup being rolled out verbatim are unlikely, but changes are needed regardless. With the most important change in my mind being to give Ryan Donato another chance. Game four will turn the tide of the series regardless of the result and changes may be needed to turn the tides in the Bruins’ favor.

Bruins DeBrusk Needs Intensity, Consistency Matched by Krejci & Rick Nash

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

By: Drew Johnson   |   Follow Me On Twitter @doobshmoob

Any fan of playoff hockey knows that a team needs all four lines rolling in order to dub themselves kings of the NHL.

Thus far, the Boston Bruins’ third line has been crunching the opposition along the boards, the fourth line has rarely had a bad shift, and the first line has been firing on all cylinders.

The same can’t be said about the second line. While rookie Jake DeBrusk has been nothing short of a phenom, his linemates – David Krejci and Rick Nash – have been inconsistent. When they do show up, it is DeBrusk making them look good, at least for the most part.

DeBrusk On Fire

DeBrusk has been a joy to watch this postseason for Bruins fans everywhere. The 21-year-old has registered a point in every playoff game but Game 3’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Overall he has registered six goals and two assists during his first NHL postseason.

The flashiness of DeBrusk’s goals has been something to marvel at. While the majority of them have been assisted by Krejci, they often come from a superb individual effort from the rookie. Take this one during Game 7 against the Maple Leafs for example, which went on to become the game-winner no less.

But DeBrusk is no stranger to strong playoff performances. During the 2017 AHL Playoffs, the then 20-year-old potted six goals and three assists in 17 games with the Providence Bruins. He even notched the Baby B’s first goal of that postseason.

But DeBrusk could sure use some help. While Krejci and Rick Nash have shown up at times, it is really the rookie that has led the way and stole the show.

Krejci & Nash Must Step Up

It is not fair to say that Krejci and Nash have been silent this postseason. Krejci has tallied two goals and seven assists thus far. One of his two goals have come with a DeBrusk helper, and all but three of his assists have come on a DeBrusk goal.

Of course, you have to give Krejci credit. As stated above, many of DeBrusk’s goals have come from great individual efforts, but the Bruins’ second-line center has set up his winger quite nicely on multiple occasions.

Then there’s Rick Nash, who finally showed up in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a pair of goals, including this absolute snipe:

An important thing to be noted about this play is Krejci’s drive to the net which draws both Tampa Bay defensemen below the hash marks. This created plenty of space for Nash to take his time and target the top left corner. This was basically a role reversal as it usually the power forward you see crashing the net.

But consistency is the key word of this article. There have been too many instances where the two veterans have simply looked sluggish throughout this postseason. Take Game 7 against the Maple Leafs for example. It took a full 40 minutes for David Krejci to wake up. It seemed that coming out of the second intermission, we witnessed an extra boost in his stride that should have been there all game long.

Then there’s Nash who has just three goals and an assist to his name throughout the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The only consistency of No. 61’s game has been tossing opponents into the boards every chance he gets.

If the Bruins are to achieve more successes this postseason, they will need all members of their second line to find consistency. DeBrusk has set the stage, now Krejci and Nash need to follow through.

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 6 ECQF

(Photo Credit: Frank Gunn/ The Canadian Press via AP)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Wingels

Rick Nash-Riley Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Krug-Miller

Chara-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Goalies

Rask

Khudobin

Toronto’s Lineup

Forwards

Hyman-Matthews-Brown

Marleau-Kadri-Marner

Johnsson-Plekanec-Nylander

Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kapanen

Defense

Reilly-Hainsey

Gardiner-Zaitsev

Dermott-Polak

Goalies

Andersen

McElhinney

First Period

Tommy Wingels is a top-six forward, Rick Nash moves to the third line, and Danton Heinen sits for game six. Chances were traded to start with neither team coming out with a clear advantage. Tuukka chants reigned down from the Toronto fans early in the game. Weird that they want him back after this point after he was traded to Boston in 2006.

About 6:20 into the period, Kasperi Kapanen fumbled the puck in his own end, leading to Brad Marchand getting the first big chance of the game, beating Andersen on the five-hole, by ricocheting to the left corner.

The halfway point passes and Jake DeBrusk skies the puck out of play, warranting a delay of game penalty and a Toronto power play with 9:50 to go. After some pretty good power play chances, the power play was killed and the Bruins went back to even strength with under eight minutes to go.

Toronto gained momentum for a bit following the power play. But Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak came out and got the momentum back in the Bruins’ favor with some solid chances.

Marchand then knocked a puck out of the air a few minutes later, just missing the post before Roman Polak mugged David Pastrnak in the near corner.

One of the themes of games four through six has been a lack of execution, despite plenty of chances. That continued this period when Rick Nash nearly scored with less than a minute to go before Morgan Reilly knocked the net off its pegs. Patrick Marleau then responded with a chance of his own flying up the wing before Kevan Miller put him into the earth’s crust with a hit. No score after one.

Ahead of their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, 19 members of the Boston Red Sox came to support the Bruins in game six, plus manager Alex Cora and other staff members.

(Via @mkmolnar on Twitter)

Score: 0-0 

Second Period

Who doesn’t love David Pastrnak?

(Via @mkmolnar on Twitter)

The action got started quickly when Jake DeBrusk rolled off of the right circle off the draw and sniped one past Frederik Andersen just 1:02 into the period. Oh wait, there’s more. Fast forward 29 seconds later to when William Nylander picked up a rebound to tie the game. Chara and McAvoy just let Nazem Kadri screen Tuukka Rask, making things difficult for Rask to track the puck. Next thing you know, goal. Not a good look for the Chara-McAvoy pairing.

(Via @mkmolnar on Twitter)

Controversy followed with 16:56 left when Zach Hyman glided across the crease, nullifying the goal after the goal review showed his skate dragging Tuukka Rask’s stick out of his hand. No goal. Plenty of chances came from the Bruins’ bottom-six and the Bergeron line following the no-goal call. It’s getting to a point where the Bruins should nearly be scoring double digits with all of the great chances they just haven’t been able to finish as of late.

The chances didn’t land leading up to Mitch Marner’s goal with 6:35 left in the period off of a funky backhander that snuck past Tuukka Rask. Torey Krug misread the play, giving Marner plenty of space to shoot. Bad defense on both goals, but that was one that Tuukka could have had at the same time. 2-1 Toronto.

(Via @PeteBlackburn on Twitter)

To make matters worse, Kevan Miller takes a roughing penalty with 5:41 to go, Toronto to the power play. Luckily, the penalty was killed off. Just when it looked like the rest of the period was quiet, Nazem Kadri slashes Riley Nash and heads to the box with 9.6 seconds left.

Score: 2-1 Toronto

Third Period

The beginning of the third period was highlighted by an epic Frederik Andersen flop after light, accidental elbow contact. This lead to matching roughing penalties for Roman Polak and David Backes as a scrum ensued after Polak went after Backes.

The flopping continued, this time from Nazem Kadri causing Charlie McAvoy went to the box for “tripping.” 4-on-3 coming up. All of the penalties were killed off, back to full strength we go.

Back-and-forth chances ensued until Tuukka Rask made the save of the game on a nice chance from William Nylander. Meanwhile the Bruins are still striving to execute.

Finally, a delay of game penalty that’s not against the Bruins as Tomas Plekanec heads off with 5:43 left. Frederik Andersen continued to play out of his mind and held the Bruins scoreless on the power play. Tuukka made his fair share of saves off the rush on Kasperi Kapanen and Auston Matthews.

The referees miss a clear interference at center ice and Tomas Plekanec ices the game on the empty netter with 1:14 to go. Cool, I guess. Watch Marleau at the beginning of the clip below.

(Via @BruinsCLNS on Twitter)

Game seven, TD Garden, Wednesday. I’m upset.

Final score: 2-1 Toronto

Boston Bruins: Round 1 Game 6 Preview

 

David Krejci and the Bruins will take on Zach Hyman and the Leafs in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting Thursday night in Boston.

Photo Credit: (RICK MADONIK / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

By: Lucas Salvatore | Check me out on Twitter @lsalvatore29

Well here we are again the Boston Bruins have their second shot at ending the Toronto Maple Leafs season tonight will they do it or will these two clubs be heading back to Boston for a game 7?

The first goal will be a huge one once again tonight as the team who scores first has won every game thus far. The Bruins had a slow start in game 5, and while they were the better team after sixty minutes, the team knows that they have to start playing as soon as the puck drops at the Air Canada Center. The power play will be an area the Bruins look at as it single-handedly killed them last game not scoring on a five on three is inexcusable in such an important game.

Lineups

Things You Need To Know

  • Bruce Cassidy hinted at some lineup changes although nothing is confirmed
  • Expect Danton Heinen to be taken out if changes do happen
  • Leo Komarov is still expected to be out
  • Bruins penalty kill is 13th out of 16 teams
  • No surprise as Tuukka Rask will get the start after being pulled in game 5

Player To Watch

Boston

David Pastrnak: The Bruins top line has recorded 0 points in the two Bruins losses in the playoffs, and when you notice how effective they have been it is really incredible to see that stat line. Pastrnak will need to take this game over tonight if the Bruins are to end this series. David has not scored since game 2 where he scored a hat-trick, the Bruins need to get him going again as he is the driving force on the top line since the playoffs have started. If Pastrnak gets going you can expect fellow linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to also chip in.

Rick Nash: Where have we heard this before he’s getting chances but can’t finish, Rick Nash since scoring that power play tap-in has been invisible. It doesn’t help that the Bruins second line has only scored one even-strength goal thus far. Boston merely has not gotten enough from this second unit, and they absolutely need to get Nash going if they expect to go far because let’s say they move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning they will need all four lines going if they plan to be in that series.

Toronto

Connor Brown: Being moved up on Auston Matthews wing sure does have some perks as Brown recorded his first goal of the series last game in Boston. This winger has a nose for the net and a really great shot so the Bruins will have to watch him as the Leafs look to once again get Matthews going on home ice. Brown will look to create more open space for his centermen tonight and don’t be surprised to see him heavily involved should the Leafs find success.

Fredrick Andersen: What else is there to say he was superb and the main reason we are sitting here right now awaiting game 6. The Leafs desperately need him to have an almost identical performance to the one he had in game 5 for them to even have a chance to push this to 7 games. With the defense that the Leafs have they will only go as far as Andersen lets them and based on his game to game stats, he has been very inconsistent.

BNG Predictions

Lucas Salvatore: 4-2 Boston

KG: 2-1 Boston in OT

Max Mainville: 4-3 Toronto

Mike Cratty: 4-1 Boston

Garrett Haydon: 3-2 Boston in OT

Mark Allred: 5-3 Boston

 

Should The Bruins Re-sign Rick Nash?

(Photo credit: Mike Penhollow/Boston Bruins)

By: Lucas Salvatore | Check me out on Twitter @lsalvatore29

Rick Nash has been a welcomed addition to the Boston Bruins since arriving in late February but with plenty of young talent on the rise will the Bruins retain the power forward?

Nash was the most significant acquisition for the Bruins this trade deadline the deal was as follows.

Pretty big price to pay for a rental player as Ryan Spooner was having the best statistical year of his career posting 0.69 points per game which is a 0.08 increase from his career high season in 2015-16. Spooner then went on to score sixteen points in twenty games with the New York Rangers to end the season and finally seems to thrive at a top six center position which the Bruins could never offer.

Rick Nash, on the other hand, was brought in to give a brand new winger to longtime Bruin centermen David Krejci as fans may remember the constant roulette wheel of wingers Krejci has had to deal with over the last few seasons.

Now Krejci has finally gotten consistent linemates this season finding great chemistry alongside rookie Jake DeBrusk and newly acquired Rick Nash so a case must be made to why the Bruins should at least look into the options of seeing this trio play for a full NHL season.

Rick Nash was drafted 1st overall in 2002 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. While playing for the Jackets, Rick was named the captain of the squad and remained the leader until being traded to the Rangers in the summer of 2012. In his 15 NHL season, Rick has hit the forty goal mark three times and reached over thirty goals five times. Nash also won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy in the 2003-04 season as the league’s top goal scorer. Nash is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada.

Since arriving in Boston Nash has posted six points in eleven games. The power forward had flashes of brilliance which were short-lived when he suffered a concussion on March 17th in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nash has since returned to the Bruins line-up for the start of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and has not missed a beat so far. While he only has one goal, Nash has been a presence with his physical play and really sets the pace for the Bruins second line giving them more offensive depth throughout the line-up.

Here is what Boston cap situation looks like heading into the offseason.

With over 9 million dollars in cap space, it will be interesting how Don Sweeney evens out the money this offseason. Players due for a raise include Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Matt Grzelcyk, Sean Kuraly and Anton Khudobin. While Rick Nash will not be getting a raise based on recent years of performance and age, it would be interesting to see if he is willing to take a two-year deal at around 4 to 4.5 million dollars per season to remain in Boston.

Time will tell Rick is not getting any older and rumors for him to return to the Rangers in the offseason continue to rise. So fans should not be surprised if Rick packs his bags and returns to the big apple next season, but one would think if he wants to compete for a Stanley Cup Boston would be a great option.

With such a small sample size of what Rick Nash can do look for this playoff run to be a pivotal part of how the Bruins go into these negotiations. Rick has been known as a playoff passenger for his entire career if he can somehow be a crucial part of this run look for Don Sweeney and his team to be more engaged in trying to get a deal done before July 1st, 2018.

If Rick Nash does not resign Bruins fans should forget about him as many fans seem to have forgotten that Anders Bjork will return next season from shoulder surgery and should be the leading candidate to replace Nash if he does decide not to return.

Playing most of his minutes alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to start his NHL career Anders Bjork seemed to have all the skills to develop into a top-six forward. A loss of confidence gave him a one-way ticket to the AHL where Anders could work on his skills before being brought back to the parent club. After returning to the NHL and playing a few games, Anders suffered an injury against the Anaheim Ducks which ended his season.

Next season Anders should be more motivated to stick into the Bruins lineup having a taste of what it takes to play in the NHL. Moving him alongside Krejci and DeBrusk if needed could open up more scoring opportunities for him, his high hockey IQ and elite shooting ability should make him lethal with a playmaker like David Krejci and the grinding machine that is Jake DeBrusk.

Ryan Donato should be looked at as a potential candidate to put alongside Krejci. Many options could be seen at that spot, but fans should expect if both Nash’s do leave Donato could be looking at the third line center position when the puck drops next season.

Other potential dark horse candidates include Zach Senyshyn and Peter Cehlarik.

So the Bruins do have options going into next season. The best option would be to try and resign Rick Nash for at least a few more seasons considering the price Don Sweeney paid. A full year of DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash would be a lot of fun to see, Rick looks like a player that was born to wear the black and gold and the fans should be rewarded with a few more years of Rick Nash.

If the Bruins fall short in resigning him, it should not seem like the end of the world for Bruins fans, while the price will sting even more the talent coming up from Providence should have fans smiling in no time.

Should the Bruins Resign Rick Nash or let others a chance to shine next season? Let us know what you think.

Boston Bruins: Game 1 Preview

Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By Lucas Salvatore | Follow me on Twitter @lsalvatore29

Its an original six Playoff matchup at TD Garden Thursday night as the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs get ready for game one of the 2018 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals.

For the 15th time in NHL history, these two franchises will face off in best of seven series. This season it was the Leafs who won the season series three games to one. The games were a mix of 4-1 blowouts and tight contest respectively 3-2 and 4-3 featuring one overtime game. This will be the first playoff contest between these two clubs since the famous game seven collapses by the Maple Leafs in 2013. Only seven members from the Bruins remain and five from the Maple Leafs.

This new installment of this rivalry will include some of the games brightest young stars such as Charlie McAvoy and Auston Matthews as well as future Hockey Hall of Famers Zdeno Chara and Patrick Marleau. The mix of veterans and youth will be on full display as the Leafs have one of the NHL best offensive teams, but the Bruins hold a defensive advantage.

 

Practice Lines 

Things you need to know 

  • Riley Nash will not play in game one but has not been ruled out for game two.
  • Ryan Donato appears to be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game.
  • Nick Holden and Brian Gionta will also be a healthy scratch.
  • The Bruins have not won a home playoff game since 2014.
  • The Leafs have not defeated the Bruins in a Playoff series since 1959.

Players To Watch

Boston 

Rick Nash: Returning from a concussion that has kept him out of game action since March 17th it will be interesting to see how fast the Bruins power forward can adapt to the hectic playing style this series will undoubtedly bring. Rick who is seen by many as a playoff disappearing act will most likely have his last chance to prove himself as a clutch player playing alongside proven playoff performer David Krejci.

Torey Krug: Torey did not participate in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring due to injury. Look for him to come out with a lot of energy and push the pace as the Bruins look to attack early. The blueliner has recorded sixteen points in twenty-seven playoff games and was also ranked ninth in points amongst defensemen this season. Krug led the way against the Leafs this season for Boston scoring four points in four games played.

Toronto

Auston Matthews: The former first overall draft selection already made a statement in the postseason last spring against the Washington Capitals scoring four goals in six games. Auston has spent time on the shelf this year and missed 3 of the four meetings between the two clubs earlier this season. It will be interesting to see how the Leafs number one center matches up against Patrice Bergeron in one of the series leading storylines.

Mitch Marner He has been a Bruins killer this season putting up nine points in four games between the two clubs. Marner while not having the best start this season found his stride during the second half and looks to continue the momentum going into this series. Watch for him to create a lot of plays especially on the powerplay as he uses his vision and speed to open up lanes.

Final Prediction: 4-2 Bruins Win

 

Lineup Questions for Boston as Playoffs Arrive.

 

Boston Bruins' Riley Nash, right, is congratulated by teammates Charlie McAvoy, left, and Tim Schaller (59) after Nash scored against the Calgary Flames during the second period of the game at TD Garden in Boston on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

PHOTO CREDIT: Christopher Evans

By: Lucas Salvatore | Check me out on Twitter @lsalvatore29

The Boston Bruins should be expecting a few familiar faces to return from injury this week as the regular season winds down. So the question must be asked who will play and who will sit?

As Charlie McAvoy made his return last night in the 4-0 losing effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there are injury updates from Head Coach Bruce Cassidy as the Bruins enter their three remaining regular season games.

Rick Nash continues to skate back in Boston as it is more and more likely that he returns to the line up this weekend to get in a regular season game before the playoffs start.

Riley Nash meanwhile is still recovering after being hit with a Torey Krug shot which left him with 40 stitches in his ear.

And as Brandon Carlo will not be available for the remainder of the season, the Bruins will need someone to step up and log top-four minutes which will not be an easy task.

Here’s a look at what the lineup looked like Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

David Krejci seems to have been enjoying himself playing alongside rookies Ryan Donato and Jake DeBrusk. But as Rick Nash continues to make progress, fans should expect one of Donato or DeBrusk to be sent down to the third line when he returns to the lineup. As Rick was brought in for Krejci to feel more at home with a “Lucic like presence” on his line, there should be no reason why Nash would not slide into the right-wing spot on the second line, but the question is who he will replace?

Jake DeBrusk since returning from injury had a great game against the Florida Panthers posting two goals and an assist but has since been left pointless in his last two games. Jake is by far one of the best forecheckers on the team this season, his aggressive style of play makes him perfect for grinding out pucks for Rick Nash and David Krejci. The fact that Jake has spent time playing with them this season and has had time to establish some chemistry with the two forwards make him an obvious choice for the second line heading into the playoffs.

Ryan Donato, on the other hand, has been more than excellent since making the jump to the NHL posting four goals and three assists in nine games so far. Bruins fans should be thrilled with this fantastic production in his early career but shouldn’t jump the gun on calling him a top-six forward just yet. The best way to ease Donato in these situations is to make him a top-nine forward and line him up with Backes and Riley Nash (once healthy) for a more balanced attack going forward. Keeping him on the first powerplay unit would continue to give him high scoring opportunities and would create a better second unit with Rick Nash returning.

So, it should be interesting to see where Rick Nash slides into the lineup when he returns; it would be a broadcaster’s nightmare to see him line up next to Riley Nash when both return to the squad.

One would think out of everyone on the forward core the three that would be in the most trouble of being taken out of the lineup would be Danton Heinen Tommy Wingels and Brian Gionta.

Heinen has had trouble finding the back of the net since mid-January only scoring four goals in that span. Bruins fans should expect to see him taken out of the lineup at the expense of a guy like Ryan Donato but should still expect Danton to make his playoff debut should players like Donato or DeBrusk struggle out of the gate.

Wingels, on the other hand, is a guy that can move up and down the lineup like he has done early in a Bruins uniform. Wingels who has 8 points in 54 career playoff games would only find his way into the lineup in case of an injury on the 4th line as if Kuraly returns fans must assume that the Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari line will remain untouched heading into the postseason.

Gionta is another guy to look at; he would be more of a threat to Heinen ice-time going into the playoffs as he has way more experience, with 68 points in 112 playoff games to Heinen zero. So, it would be interesting to see who the coaching staff leans towards if they need a forward on the top three lines.

The right guy should be Heinen as the youngster has had flashes of brilliance this year and even though he shouldn’t start the playoffs on the team one would think the coaching staff would turn to his 44 points production this year and give him the opportunity first if an injury would occur.

Defensemen should be a big question mark heading into the postseason. Nick Holden and Adam McQuaid should see the last three games as an opportunity to earn a spot on the roster.

Adam McQuaid would be the obvious choice for many Bruins fans as he has always been serviceable and reliable throughout his career. McQuaid should be expected as the one to suit up as the Bruins already have three puck-moving defensemen in Krug, McAvoy, and Grzelyck already on the roster, and they could use more physicality going into a series against the Philadelphia Flyers or Toronto Maple Leafs for example.

Holden would see himself drawing into the line-up in case of an injury to the three puck moving defensemen. Holden has been decent at times in his Bruins career but has struggled to play the right side as a left shot which has in my opinion been the factor on which of these players will start the playoffs.

My 2018 Postseason Boston Bruins Lineup

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Rick Nash
Donato-Riley Nash-Backes
Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari
Heinen-Wingles-Gionta

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Miller
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Holden

Rask
Khudobin

Have Another lineup in mind? Post a comment I would love to hear other ideas.

Should Bruins Fans Be Worried Headed Into The Postseason?

grzelcyk injury vs jets

Photo: The Daily Progress

By Adam Belue | Follow on Twitter @albinomamba44

It may sound absolutely ridiculous/manic/borderline insane to even attempt to ask Bruins fans if they are worried about their team headed into the playoffs.

Boston is currently one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division, with one game in hand and with two matchups left against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the last two weeks of the regular season.  The B’s host the Lightning on Thursday night and a victory would vault Boston into first place in the East for the first time this season.

The Bruins have been on an absolute tear since mid-November, transforming themselves from a borderline playoff team to one that is on the short list of viable Stanley Cup contenders.  And although the injury bug has hit them hard in the last few weeks, the B’s are still consistently racking up points, going 2-0-2 on their most recent four-game road trip that ended in a dramatic 5-4 shootout loss on Tuesday night in Winnipeg.

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But that game may have brought to light several concerns with this Bruins team, and while I’m not considering hitting any panic buttons, I think there are things to be worried about as the B’s head to the postseason.

Winnipeg may have found the blueprint to silence the Bruins’ top line.

Boston has one of, if not the best top lines in the entire league, as the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have been phenomenal and guided the B’s to their spot near the top of the NHL standings.  The Jets employed a unique strategy on Tuesday night, sticking their fourth line of Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, and Brandon Tanev, and that ploy worked wonders for the home team.  Not only did the Jets neutralize Boston’s top line, the fourth line combined for three goals (all from Tanev) and three assists while stashing a +8 rating (compared to the -8 combined from Bergeron, Marchand, and

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Not only did the Jets neutralize Boston’s top line, the fourth line combined for three goals (all from Tanev) and three assists while stashing a +8 rating (compared to the -8 combined from Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak).  Winnipeg was also extremely physical with the top line, with Marchand and specifically Pastrnak on the receiving end of several huge hits.  Those body blows likely cost Boston the game, as Marchand looked a bit sluggish on his late breakaway attempt at the end of overtime.

Physicality (or lack thereof) is a current issue with the Bruins.

I preface this by saying that the lineup that the Bruins are employing currently will likely not be the one that starts the postseason, but there is a lack of big, physical bodies that are willing to exchange blows on the ice for Boston.  The fourth line has no problem being physical, especially in the forecheck, and Kevan Miller is always willing and able to bring the pain along the boards and in open ice.  But without David Backes and Rick Nash, there aren’t many forwards on the current roster that can match up to a physical, big lineup.

The same can be said on defense, as guys like Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk just don’t have a big presence at the blue line as Boston would have with a healthy Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy. The league is obviously trending towards speed, and the need to stockpile bruisers is very limited, but these clearly aren’t the Big Bad Bruins that we saw during the last successful run of contention.  Winnipeg is a rare breed, as they are full of large but extremely talented bodies, but opponents could look to play a more physical and rugged style of hockey to disrupt Boston during the postseason.

Are we 100% certain Boston will be totally healthy once the playoffs begin?

The B’s have been slowly regaining their health with less than two weeks left in the regular season, as both Bergeron and Krug recently returned to the lineup while Backes, Chara, McAvoy, and Jake DeBrusk are all inching closer to action.  But there is little to no news on the health of Rick Nash, and there is growing concern that the veteran may not return unless the B’s make a deep and lengthy run in the playoffs.  Boston’s depth is a strong suit, as even without Rick Nash in the lineup, coach Bruce Cassidy will still have some extremely difficult decisions on who should start and who should sit.  But even though the B’s have gotten tremendous production from DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, and more recently from Ryan Donato, there would be a hole in their lineup if Nash could not return.

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As previously mentioned, Nash’s big body can affect games on both ends, and he was quickly developing some impressive chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk on the second line.  Nash also brought a different look to Boston’s power play, and while Donato has taken over as the person screening at the front of the net on the first PP unit, there is a large difference between seeing past Donato’s slender frame and Nash’s wide physique.  Boston may also be without Grzelcyk, who is being evaluated after being hit up high by Josh Morrissey at the end of the second period on Tuesday.  Grzelcyk has proved all season long that he deserves a spot on the playoff roster, and losing him for any period of time would be a blow even though Boston will likely get Chara and McAvoy back before the season ends.  All hands need to be on board for Boston to succeed in the postseason.

Boston cannot afford to have lapses in production or be dominated like they were in the second period.

No team can and should be expected to play great, consistent hockey from start to finish in every game, but Boston has been totally outplayed for long stretches of games, which leads to the need for more and more outrageous comebacks.  Winnipeg dominated play for most of the first and second periods, with the B’s fortunate to be tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes, and lucky to trail by just two after a mostly atrocious second period.  Boston cannot rest on their laurels and think that their unlikely success when both allowing the first goal of the game and trailing entering the third period will just continue once the playoffs start.

They can’t afford to need stellar goaltending to stay in a game, and they can’t spend entire shifts of even strength hockey defending in their own zone like they did against the Jets.  Playing with fire in the regular season, knowing that there will be another game to play, is one thing, but doing that in the playoffs when every goal matters is another thing.  Every player on Boston’s roster needs to bring their max effort from start to finish in the postseason, or else they will have yet another quick exit from the playoffs.

Goaltending is key to playoff success, and it hasn’t been as sharp recently.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are by far the most unpredictable postseason in sports, and success regularly comes to the teams that have the hottest goaltender.  Tuukka Rask is in the midst of a fantastic season, as he turned a poor 3-8-2 start into a terrific 32-11-5 record, but as of late his play has dipped.  That dip should be expected since Rask did go nearly 2.5 months without losing a game in regulation, but it is still a concern headed into the postseason.  Rask has allowed four or more goals in six of his last 12 starts, and just three times total in his previous 37 starts.  Rask is 8-0-1 in his last nine starts and has had three quality starts in his last four outings (including a huge shutout win over the Lightning on March 17).

His postseason numbers are very strong, with a career 2.12 GAA in 53 starts, so hopefully, this latest stretch is just a brief bump in the road, but Rask will have to revert back to the dominant force that he was in December and January for the B’s to hoist another Cup.  Anton Khudobin has been solid all season long, but he has also been sketchy as of late, with 17 goals allowed in his last five starts (1-2-2).  Let’s be honest, if Boston needs to use Khudobin in the playoffs, then they are in deep trouble.  No offense to Dooby, but he’s a backup goalie, and Boston needs their starter to be fantastic in order to succeed.