Bruins Still In Hibernation

(Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston via Getty Images)

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

The Bruins playoff run to become 2020 Stanley Cup Champions has finally gotten underway. Just not off to the start everyone was expecting. Now I know that the game against Columbus on July 30th was only an exhibition game, but they looked very sloppy and out of sync with each other in that game. Not much changed when they had to play a game that actually mattered against Philadelphia on August 2nd. This game was their first of the Round-Robin to determine the top four seeds in the conference. Not a lot of good things came out of either of these games except the rising talent of Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork, but we will talk about that another time. For now, let’s get into the games. Shall we?

It didn’t take long for the Blue Jackets to get hot in the Bruins defensive zone. The Bruins also didn’t have their legs under them as much as they should have. That was made clear on the first goal scored by Columbus in the first period when Sean Kuraly Failed to backcheck and tie up Boone Jenner in front of the net who tapped it in to make it 1-0. Zack Werenski’s goal to make it 2-0 was just a beautiful shot. It could have been blocked by Par Lindholm if he had gotten over a little quicker but wasn’t able to. The third goal was a soft one given up by Rask. Yes, the defensemen should have gotten the puck out of the zone, but Rask was in a good position to make the save but slid too far over and went in five-hole to make it 3-0. The Bruins Lone goal of the game came from a broken play in front of the net and was picked up by David Pastrnak to make it 3-1. The last goal of the game was an empty netter to make it 4-1.

In conclusion, the Bruins really looked like they hadn’t played in five months. They were very sloppy in their defensive zone. They weren’t connecting with each other on simple passes. They were causing way too many turnovers. And they just weren’t in sync with each other at all. Now, again this was just an exhibition game and doesn’t mean anything but I think everyone expected the Bruins to come out a little better than they did.

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The game against the Flyers on August 2nd started off strange when it was announced shortly before that Tuukka Rask was “Unfit to Play,” and Jaroslav Halak would get the start in the first Round-Robin game for the Bruins and first meaningful hockey game they have played in over five months. Right from the puck drop in this one, you saw a little bit more intensity from the Bruins and a much better start. They came out with some fire in the offensive zone and in the physicality department as well. But, poor plays in the Defensive zone and turnovers would end up being the nail in the coffin for the Bruins in this one. All four goals scored by the Flyers were right after a turnover or just after what should have been a play where the puck should have been cleared.

The Bruins play their next Round-Robin game on Wednesday, August 5th, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, where it has been announced that Tampa will be without their captain Steven Stamkos. That is a break for the Bruins for sure, but they need more than that. They need to step up their play on both ends of the ice. They need to make better decisions coming out of their own zone while transitioning offensively. They need to shoot the puck when they are in a scoring position and not try to make the pretty/perfect pass. The two teams the Bruins have played so far were selfish instead of passive and shot the puck in scoring positions and it worked out pretty well for them. If the Bruins aren’t careful and come out of hibernation soon, they could find themselves in the 4th seed going into the first round of the playoffs after winning the Presidents Trophy in the same year. That is something that has never happened and probably never will again.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 that we recorded below on 8-2-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Columbus: 7/30/20

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Columbus Blue Jackets

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Studnicka

Kuraly – Coyle – Bjork

Nordstrom – Lindholm – Wagner

Kuhlman

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Moore

Goalies

Rask – Halak (splitting time)

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Foligno – Wennberg – Atkinson

Texier – DuBois – Bjorkstrand

Nyquist – Jenner – Foudy

Robinson – Nash – Bemstrom

Gerbe

Defense

Werenski – Jones

Gavrikov – Savard

Murray – Kukan

Nutivaara

Goalies

Korpisalo – Merzlikins (splitting time)

First Period

As expected in the first game action since early March, both teams were feeling each other out and getting their feet under them. Things were fairly pedestrian for the first four minutes. That was until Boone Jenner got the Blue Jackets on the board four minutes and 27 seconds in, connecting on a sweet saucer pass from Liam Foudy.

John Moore took the first penalty of the game with 6:42 remaining for interference. The Bruins killed the penalty successfully. Good to not start 0 for 1. Not too long after, Matt Grzelcyk and Seth Jones both took separate penalties. Grzelcyk went off for hooking, Jones went off for slashing, and a 4-on-4 ensued. Brad Marchand went off for hooking late in the 4-on-4. Zach Werenski then buried a one-timer from the point just seconds later on the 4-on-3 to give the Blue Jackets a two-goal lead with 1:42 left.

Gustav Nyquist made it three for the Blue Jackets just 18 seconds later. Outside of being down on the scoreboard, the Bruins just couldn’t put much of anything together in the offensive zone. Luckily, it doesn’t count for anything. The Bruins were outshot 13 to 7.

Score: 3-0 Columbus

Second Period

The Bruins played a bit better to start the period, but still struggled to score. Brandon Carlo went to the box for tripping with 12:42 to go. Jaroslav Halak came in for Tuukka Rask with 10:06 remaining. Rask stopped 17 of 20 shots. Elvis Merzlikins did the same for Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo stopped all of the 11 shots that he faced.

David Pastrnak got the Bruins on the board, at last with 7:44 remaining, beating Merzlikins on the five-hole. Sean Kuraly and Charlie McAvoy had the helpers. Seth Jones took his second penalty of the game, this time for interference with 5:03 remaining. Nothing came of it for the Bruins.

Pastrnak’s goal was the only one scored in the second period. Despite being bailed out by a couple of posts, the Bruins definitely turned things up a notch, primarily offensively. Shots in the period were 12-9 in favor of the Blue Jackets, bringing the total to 25-16.

Score: 3-1 Columbus

Third Period

Pierre-Luc DuBois went off for cross-checking early in the period, but the Bruins couldn’t make it hurt. Shortly after, Par Lindholm went off for goaltender interference. Both penalties were killed effectively.

Jaroslav Halak was pulled with around a minute left, but it wasn’t enough. Alexandre Texier buried an empty netter with 1.5 seconds left and that was it. Shots in the third were 8-6 in favor of the Bruins, 31-24 Blue Jackets overall. Although it was a lackluster performance for the Bruins overall, it’s nothing to freak out about. Next up are the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday to get round-robin play started. Puck drop in Toronto is set for 3 PM ET.

Final Score: 4-1 Columbus

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 187: We Honor The Loss Of An Amesbury, Mass. Legend & Give Updates On Recent Bruins News

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Who’s The Most Underrated Player On The Bruins?

(Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I’m a Bruins fan, but I feel there’s a lot of players on the Boston Bruins roster that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whether that be league-wide, or by fans in Boston, there are a lot of underappreciated guys like Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, and Torey Krug just to name a few. As you continue to read below, I give my idea’s as a diehard and question who is the most underrated player on this National Hockey League Bruins team? Let me kno0w your thoughts in the comments section below about my mentions of the Bruins players.

Brad Marchand

When 95% of hockey fans hear the name “Brad Marchand,” the first thing they think of is his antics on the ice. While he’s certainly deserved his reputation in that sense, he needs to be talked about amongst the greats of the NHL right now. He should be spoken in the same breath as the likes of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Alex Ovechkin. 

Over the past three seasons, only Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, and Leon Draistaitl have more points than the A1 agitator. And he does far more than just score points. He’s been in the top 16 for Selke voting over the past three years and is well known as one of the better playoff performers in recent history. Despite one specific play sticking out like a sore thumb, everyone’s favorite rat led the playoffs in scoring last year and is currently 17th in active playoff scoring, despite being younger, and having fewer games under his belt than just about everyone around him. 

Charlie Coyle

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have had a hole at the third-line center position for quite some time. They’ve gotten good performances for a year from guys like Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash, but the consistency was never there. Now with Charlie Coyle, the Bruins have never been deeper.  He’s given the Bruins a level of stability that’s really needed to be a Stanley Cup contender.  

He’s managed to average more even-strength minutes than guys like Patrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk, and it’s been remarkable how much he’s helped the Bruin’s even-strength woes. 13 of his 16 goals have come at even strength, good for 4th on the team. He has a ton of skill for a guy his size and his ability to keep control of the puck is excellent. If he was put in a more prominent role, I think he’d have a real good chance to be a 20-something goal, 55 point guy. 

Brandon Carlo

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks
(Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Offensively, he’ll never get confused with his defensive partner Torey Krug, but Brandon Carlo may be one of the best defensive defensemen in the league. At 6’5, Carlo has a great reach, and despite his big frame, the Colorado native can really move. He’s relentless in the Bruin’s own zone and has helped the Bs boast the 3rd best penalty kill in the league. 

As he’s gotten older, the 23-year-old has only improved. He’s added a much-needed snarl to his game, and the once nicknamed “Bambi” has been way better with the puck on his stick. Despite the shortened season, the defenseman notched a career-high with 19 points in 67 games, following an excellent run in the playoffs. It took three seasons for Carlo to get a shot to play for Lord Stanley, and he did not disappoint. He touted a +10 rating, good for second in the entire playoffs, and had a couple really important goals for the Bruins. Learning from one of the best, Brandon Carlo will be a force at the blueline for many years to come. 

Matt Grzelcyk

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on January 19, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

If I had to describe Matt Grzelcyk in one word, it would probably be easier than trying to remember how to spell his last name. But that word would be great. He’s just great at everything he does. He makes a great first pass, he’s great at leading the transition, he’s a great skater with a great head on his shoulders. The Boston University product has simply been a swiss army knife. The Bruins have had nine defensive pairings this season that have played over 100 minutes together. Matt Grzelcyk is on the top FIVE in terms of GA/60 (goals allowed per 60 minutes). And in terms of Corsi, Gryz is featured on three of the top four. Give him more minutes. 

Honorable Mentions

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

David Krejci – He’s never really been appreciated by fans. He’s done everything you want from a 2nd line center despite not having a real right winger for years.

Patrice Bergeron – A little out of the running because he’s been “underrated” for so many years. But I still think he needs a more praise for how good he really it. 

Zdeno Chara – People seem to focus on his legs, not his importance to the Bruins. Their D-core won’t be the same when he leaves. 

Tuukka Rask – It seems like everyone outside of Boston realizes how good Mr. Rask is, he’s elite.

I’m not sure I could pick the most underrated player on the Bruins. Gun to my head, I’d think I would have to say Brandon Carlo, but the others aren’t far behind. Who do you think takes the crown for the most underrated player on the Bruins?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

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By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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The Bruin Who Needs To Have A Stellar Playoff Performance

kuraly 2

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Last week, the NHL announced its Return to Play action.  The plan allows teams to return to NHL activity based on individual states’ reopening laws and a proposal to begin the NHL playoffs in July.  The Bruins finished the year with the highest point total in the NHL, which awards them the President’s Trophy.  They have also secured a place in the top-4 seed round-robin playoff to determine the seed they’ll occupy for the upcoming playoff.  They can place no lower than fourth and will have a bye for the preliminary round.

Full disclosure, it is quite unfortunate they have to play in a round-robin to determine seed when they finished the year as the best regular-season squad.  Alas, the Bruins, and every other team will play by the rules, and we’ll hopefully see the Bruins occupy the top seed.

The year they won in 2011, the Bruins were the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.  During that year, every player on the team had a significant moment and played their best hockey.  The top two lines will always be relied on and are obvious choices to bring their A-game every night.  We’ve seen teams’ third-lines become even more impactful throughout the years and are heavily relied on.  Charlie Coyle has filled that void nicely since his trade from Minnesota.  There are a few other players who need to be an X-factor to bring the Bruins their seventh Stanley Cup.  Enter: Sean Kuraly.

Sean Kuraly is in the midst of his fourth professional hockey career.  He has always dawned the black and gold, even though he was not initially drafted by the Bruins.  Kuraly was part of the Martin Jones deal with San Jose.  The Bruins originally received Martin Jones from the Los Angeles Kings, along with Colin Miller and a 2015 first-round draft selection (Jakub Zboril) for Milan Lucic.  Tuukka Rask was still at the helm when the Bruins acquired Jones, so they flipped Jones to the Sharks for a 2016 first-round pick (Trent Frederic) and Sean Kuraly.

Since then, Kuraly has always called Boston home.  He was drafted 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL draft.  He played all four years at Miami University (Ohio), where he amassed 93 points in 154 games.  In his final year at Miami, Kuraly added another accolade to his resume that fits the Bruin mold.

He played three quarters’ of a year with the Providence Bruins in 2016, where he scored 26 points in 54 games and a plus 10 rating.  He joined the Bruins for eight games when the Providence Bruins’ playoffs ended, and never looked back.  He notched his first NHL career assist in and his first NHL career playoff goal in the subsequent playoffs.  Along with his first NHL career goal, he also completed his first multi-goal game.

Kuraly has played almost every position the Bruins have needed him.  He is their Swiss Army knife and has been extremely flexible and adaptable.  Recently, he’s spent most of his time between the third and fourth lines.  The Bruins have been trying out many of their draft prospects throughout the past couple years, and Kuraly has been a byproduct of that.  He’s been able to move throughout the lineup as the Bruins give players like Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman opportunities.  Kuraly has spent most of his 2019-2020 5v5 time with Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom, which means he’s been used primarily on the fourth line.  

Before the season’s suspension in March, Kuraly had been playing alongside Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins’ third-line.  The move seemed to help Kuraly immensely because he scored his fourth goal of the year on the first night he was united with Coyle and DeBrusk in Tampa.  Kuraly’s game caught Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s eye because in the final game before the suspension, Kuraly logged 17:47 minutes on ice.

His four goals in 69 games are something he will undoubtedly have to fix come playoff time.  Thankfully, if history repeats itself, Kuraly has been known to show up on the NHL’s biggest stage, regardless of his season’s contribution.  He scored 10 points in 20 playoff games last year.  One of his most memorable playoff goals came in another game seven with the Toronto Maple Leafs leaving Bruins fans with even more examples as to why Kuraly is a vital playoff player.

Fourth-line players generally tend to hover around 10-12 minutes on ice per game.  Kuraly should play at least 12 minutes a game during the playoffs, regardless of his line placement.  He is not featured on either powerplay (unless there’s an injury), but he is featured on the penalty kill.  His 112 minutes of penalty kill time this year leads the Bruins’ forward group, according to Natural Stat Trick, making him a crucial piece of their special teams.  The Bruins rank third in the league in penalty kill percentage at 84.3.  The San Jose Sharks hold the top spot at 85.7%.

Kuraly’s adaptability gives him a unique edge on most players.  He can play with any Bruins forward on any given night, and he has.  Kuraly is a left-shot center, which is his natural position.  However, when he played on Coyle’s line, he was placed at left-wing.  He has the incredible ability to play his game and his style on any side of the lineup.  This gives Cassidy the flexibility to plug-and-play Kuraly depending on the lineup he wants to use on any given night.  If Kuraly can replicate or even improve on his 2019 playoffs, the Bruins may end up on the right side of a game seven Cup final.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-31-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

A Look Ahead To The 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft For The Bruins

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As many of you probably know, a new NHL team located in Seattle will be entering the league in the 2021-22 season. This means that in June of 2021, there’ll be another expansion draft. According to this article from NHL.com, the rules will remain the same as they were for the 2017 Vegas expansion draft, so we know exactly what it’ll look like. If you need a refresher, read through the linked article, as it details everything that’s important. So, what does this draft mean for the Bruins? As the linked article states, teams have two options in terms of protecting players. They can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or a total of eight skaters and one goalie. Back in 2017, Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney chose the 7-3-1 format. This is almost certainly the format the organization will choose again given the current team. Even so, when looking at the roster, it seems like the Bruins will lose a really good player for nothing. However, when you take a closer look, you’ll find this may not be the case. 

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Given the contract statuses (all information in this article about that comes from CapFriendly) of many of the team’s key players, if Sweeney plays his cards right, the Bruins could end up getting very lucky. David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Jaroslav Halak will all be unrestricted free agents in the 2021 offseason, as will formidable fourth-line center Sean Kuraly. Zdena Chara is also going to be a UFA (in the likely event that he plays next season), so even if he doesn’t retire, he won’t need to be protected (not that Seattle would pick a then-44-year-old player anyways). While Seattle will be able to take any of these players if left exposed, it wouldn’t make any sense for them too. They’d have no rights to the player and the player will be able to sign with whoever they want to come July 1st, 2021. If they were to be picked, the Bruins could easily just resign them then. So, the Bruins will be able to leave these players exposed and not worry about losing them for nothing, provided they don’t give them contract extensions before the draft. Hopefully, Sweeney is smart with these players and doesn’t do that (he can still negotiate a contract though), as that will put the Bruins in an excellent position to come out of this relatively unscathed. With that in mind, here’s a look at who the Bruins are likely to protect.

Forwards

Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Starting with the forwards, it goes without saying Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand will all be protected. All three of them would be taken in an instant, much to the detriment of the Bruins. Bergeron and Marchand both have no-move clauses, so they have to be protected, but even if they didn’t, there’s just no way the Bruins would expose them. Charlie Coyle has a modified no-move clause on his contract extension that kicks in next season, so he will need to be protected unless he waives it, although even if he did, he will most likely be protected anyways, Besides them, it would be shocking to see the Bruins expose Jake DeBrusk (in the near-certain event he resigns this offseason). He’s developed into a solid, albeit streaky, top-six winger, and he’s still young, so to expose him wouldn’t be smart. 

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Beyond those five, things get less clear. If Sweeney doesn’t extend the UFA forwards, he’ll be able to protect players he otherwise would’ve had to expose, including Anders Bjork (who’s a likely-to-resign RFA this offseason) and Chris Wagner. Trade deadline acquisitions Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase will both be RFAs in the 2021 offseason, but it remains to be seen how they will fit in with the Bruins in the long-term and if they will be worthy of protection. If they are, despite the long-term extension given to him this season, Wagner will likely be the one left exposed, since he is not likely to be picked given his status and the other, more enticing options that the Bruins will have available. Bjork took big steps forward in his development this season and is turning himself into a solid third-liner with the potential to become more than that. With that in mind and given how much the Bruins have invested in his development, I would be surprised to see him get exposed.

Defensemen

Photo Credit: Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Things get tougher for the Bruins when it comes to defensemen. It goes without saying Charlie McAvoy will be protected. He is the team’s number one defenseman of the present and future, and he’ll only continue to improve for the next several seasons. Exposing him would cost the team dearly, so there’s no way it happens. Brandon Carlo will undoubtedly be protected too, as he is becoming one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league, and like McAvoy, he’s only getting better. He will be an RFA in the 2021 offseason, but the Bruins will have to protect him even if they don’t sign him to an extension before the draft, because if Seattle were to pick him they would own his rights, and if he was left exposed, he would almost certainly be picked. The biggest question for the Bruins right now is what will happen with Torey Krug. He’s a UFA this offseason, and should he resign, which he has made it abundantly clear he wants to, he will be the third protected defenseman. I’m hopeful that he will resign, but if for some reason it doesn’t work out, the team will have no shortage of options surrounding who to protect.

If Krug doesn’t need to be protected for some reason, Matt Grzelcyk will likely be the third protected defenseman. If left exposed, he will almost surely be picked up, which will hurt the Bruins, as he is an excellent third-pairing defenseman who is able to play important minutes and up in the lineup. But, he is an interesting circumstance, as his contract expires this offseason. He will most likely resign with the team, but on what terms will change how the Bruins are affected by this expansion draft. He’s an RFA, but if he signs a one-year deal, it will bring him through his age 27 season, thus making him a UFA. This is without a doubt the best possible scenario for the Bruins, as it will make it so no matter what, he will not have to be protected. But, whether or not that’s likely is hard to say. If Grzelcyk wants to stay a Bruin, this is probably the only way it’ll happen, unless Krug doesn’t resign. So, hopefully, it happens, but it may not if he’s not comfortable betting on himself, or if he doesn’t want to remain a Bruin for some reason. 

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In the unlikely event that neither Krug or Grzelcyk have to be protected, the Bruins will probably protect Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, or Urho Vaakanainen. Lauzon impressed this season after being called up from Providence, so much so that he stuck in the lineup once those he was called up to help replace got healthy. He was great on the third-pairing with Grzelcyk, and if this season was any indication, the future is bright for him. Meanwhile, Clifton had a shakier season, partially due to injury. He had games where he looked like a solid third-pairing defenseman, but also somewhere he hurt the Bruins more than he helped him.

He’s a good player when he’s on his game and plays a style that can only be described as “Cliffy Hockey.” If he’s more consistent next season, he might be the one protected. Lastly, Vaakanainen, who had high expectations placed on him going into this season, was underwhelming for much of it. He still has a high ceiling, and it could easily have just been a bad year for him, so hopefully, he can turn it around next season. If he doesn’t, he makes the decision easier for Sweeney. Even if he does, I believe he is the least likely of the three to be picked by Seattle, as he has limited NHL experience, and there will be at least there good, proven, NHL player available instead. Jakub Zboril is another one the Bruins could choose to protect, as he took a major step forward in his development this season, but as of right now, he has the least NHL experience of the four, so it’s doubtful that he’d be picked.

Goaltenders

Photo Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Finally, when it comes to goalies, it’s completely up in the air as of right now. If they don’t sign Rask or Halak to an extension before the expansion draft, they’ll be able to protect one of their prospects. If they sign either of them before then, whoever gets signed will be protected. If both are signed before then, the Bruins will surely protect Rask over Halak. But, given the circumstances, I don’t see them signing both before the draft, because there’s a decent chance that Seattle would pick the one exposed due to the other options that will be available to them from the Bruins. If the Bruins are able to protect a goalie prospect, the only one who will need protection is Dan Vladar.

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Both Jeremy Swayman and Kyle Keyser will have two years or less of professional experience by the expansion draft, thus exempting them from it, and I don’t see the team resigning Maxime Lagace this offseason. Even though he took a huge step forward in his development this season and was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL, it’s doubtful Seattle would take him even if left exposed, even though they’ll be looking for promising goalie prospects. He’ll have zero NHL experience barring any serious injuries to Rask or Halak, and the Bruins will have at least one, possibly two or more, young defensemen who are proven in the NHL that will likely prove more enticing. 

Final Thoughts

In short, the Bruins have no shortage of options when it comes to the expansion draft next year. Most of their choices are clear-cut, but they have some potentially tough decisions to make for the remaining spots, although a lot can change in a year that could help them. They’re extremely lucky that several of their key players will be on expiring contracts unless they sign them to extensions before the expansion draft. If it weren’t for that, they’d be almost guaranteed to lose a great roster player. Even so, they’ll most likely lose a good young defenseman for nothing, which hurts. But, the organization has plenty of depth at that position, so it won’t be detrimental. It will be very similar to the 2017 Vegas expansion draft in that way, when they lost Colin Miller, in that it was unfortunate to lose him for nothing, but in the long run, it didn’t have a huge impact. So, let’s hope that Sweeney does the smart thing and doesn’t sign too many players (if any) to extensions in the middle of next season, thus ensuring that the Bruins won’t be too seriously hurt by the upcoming expansion draft.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Bruins “Leap” Into Franchise History Books!

Image result for boston bruins sean kuraly(Photo Credit: NBC4)

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

While the “Kura-leap” by Boston Bruins forward Sean Kuraly can be experienced often (as pictured above), the B’s experiencing an actual LEAP DAY game is few and far between.

However, their February 29th, 2020 tilt against the New York Islanders on the road at the venerable Nassau Coliseum (well, that’s what it used to be called anyway) proved to be as entertaining as it was memorable; as enjoyable as it was historic; and as engaging as it was important.

That’s because the Bruins — for the first time in franchise history — won a game on Leap Year’s extra day while away from Boston. Their impressive 4-0 road win improved their overall Leap Day record to a now winning 5-4-1.

I had this game Marked On My Bruins Calendar since the Fall for exactly this fun reason: could the B’s end February — and in turn jump start their Spring playoff push — with a big W on a calendar-quirky day that rarely ever falls in line with their schedule. To wit:

BOSTON BRUINS LEAP YEAR HISTORY:

1940 – W, 4-2 over Montreal

1944 – L, 7-3 @ Toronto

1948 – L, 5-1 @ Chicago Blackhawks

1956 – L, 4-2 @ New York Rangers

1964 – W, 2-1 over Detroit Red Wings

1968 – W, 4-1 over Toronto Maple Leafs

1976 – W, 5-3 over Vancouver Canucks

1992 – T, 5-5 with Washington Capitals

2000 – L, 5-1 to Ottawa Senators

2020 – W, 4-0 over New York Islanders

Only ten Leap Day games since 1940 have lined up with the Bruins battling it out on the 29th of February. But for today’s historic happenings, it was well worth it. Multiple point games from Torey Krug and Long Island homecoming king Charlie McAvoy (well, that’s how the crowd cheered for him every time he touched the puck), as well as the 49th shutout of Tuukka Rask’s career highlighted only some of the successful on-ice work the B’s brought to the isle.

Now it’s time for Boston to focus on adding some extra hardware to their trophy case as the team gears up for a huge final few weeks of the regular season. The only thing extra they’ll need now is energy and rest because when it comes to the rest of the schedule, they may just want to leap forward over it.

The Lightning strike twice during the first week of March followed by some big Original Six divisional match-ups against the always pesky Red Wings and potential playoff partners (again?) the Maple Leafs. Then there’s that whole West Coast Kick road trip through California!

But if making history is any indicator of how well the B’s are performing this season, then expect a final stretch of hockey that could set the Black N’ Gold up for the ultimate historical payback: returning to the Stanley Cup finals and winning one year removed from losing — something even rarer than a Leap Day “W”.

I’d jump for that!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Pittsburgh: 1/16/20

Image result for bruins penguins td garden

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Pittsburgh Penguins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Heinen – Lindholm – Kuhlman

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Moore

Goalies

Halak

Vladar

Pittsburgh’s Lineup

Forwards

McCann – Crosby – Simon

Kahun – Malkin – Rust

Galchenyuk – Agozzino – Hornqvist

Aston-Reese – Blueger – Tanev

Defense

Johnson – Letang

Pettersson – Marino

Riikola – Ruhwedel

Goalies

Jarry

Murray

Tuukka Rask was honored for playing in his 500th game back in October before things got underway. NESN showed an awesome congratulatory video made for him before the ceremony that took place on the TD Garden ice. Congratulations to Tuukka Rask on this incredible achievement.

First Period

Sidney Crosby made his presence felt with a goal just 24 seconds into the game. A mere 52 seconds later, Zach Aston-Reese went off for roughing in response to Charlie McAvoy’s hit on Brandon Tanev. The Bruins didn’t score on the power play, but the fast pace continued after a cross-check by John Marino on Chris Wagner that wasn’t received well.

Marino sat for two minutes as a result, giving the Bruins their second power play of the game just 3:23 into the game. While Tristan Jarry was kept busy early on, he kept the Bruins off the scoreboard on their first two power plays.

Minutes later, Chris Wagner and Kris Letang exchanged pleasantries, creating a 4-on-4 as a result as both of them went off for roughing. The extra open space on the ice didn’t lead to much, but Sean Kuraly got on the board for the fourth time this season shortly after the 4-on-4 ended. It was 1-1 with 9:57 remaining. Karson Kuhlman had the primary assist, marking his first point of the season. Charlie McAvoy had the secondary assist, his 17th of the season.

Kuhlman made his mark yet again on the scoresheet, sending a shot on net that Par Lindholm tipped past Tristan Jarry to make it 2-1 Bruins for his third goal of the season. Karson Kuhlman was buzzing early on in his first game back with the Bruins since October 19th following his injury recovery and a stint with the Providence Bruins.

Not too long after the goal, Patrice Bergeron went off for tripping, but the Penguins failed to convert on the man advantage and the Bruins held onto their lead. It was a wild first period and after a fast start from the Penguins, the Bruins didn’t shy away. The shots in the period were 12-10 in their favor as they went into the intermission.

Score: 2-1 Boston

Second Period

Wagner went to the box early on for tripping, just 1:39 into the period. Brad Marchand nearly gave the Bruins a two-goal lead in shorthanded fashion. Wagner remained in the mix after leaving the box, laying a huge hit on Tanev that caused some chaos as a result.

Anders Bjork went off for two minutes for slashing just around the halfway point of the period. Joakim Nordstrom blocked a shot Juuso Riikola and went off in some pain, but eventually made his way back and powered through the pain.

Speaking of the halfway point, the Bruins outshot the Penguins 5-1 up until that point in the second period. The Bjork penalty was killed, the third successful penalty kill of the night. Brad Marchand nearly extended the lead to two, but couldn’t bury it.

Things got chippy again late in the period, leading to Torey Krug and Patric Hornqvist having a tussle, with others getting involved. A 4-on-4 ensued thanks to roughing penalties going both ways with 3:52 remaining. No one scored on the 4-on-4, again. Chaos later came as a penalty was called, Bergeron made contact with the puck with his glove, the puck crossed the goal line, but the goal was called off after a review.

Krug and Hornqvist reconvened and dropped the gloves after exiting the penalty box  Marcus Pettersson went off for holding with 1:19 to go. Five minutes for fighting followed. In the final ten seconds, the Penguins found themselves on a 2-on-0 that led to Jaroslav Halak making four saves in rapid succession to preserve the lead. The shots were 12-10 in favor of the Bruins, yet again, bringing the total to 24-20. The craziness of the second period set the stage for fireworks in the third period.

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

Bergeron extended the lead to two 3:19 into the period, marking his 20th goal of the season. He has now hit the 20-goal mark in a season 11 times in his career. David Pastrnak had the lone assist, his 31st of the season. It was a pretty sweet sequence.

The pace calmed down a bit in the third period, but things got interesting again when the Penguins took a too many men on the ice penalty. The Bruins saw a golden opportunity in front of them to extend their lead to three with 8:18 left. Although they didn’t score, they still managed to hold their two-goal. Jarry being pulled for the extra attacker late led to a chaotic bunch of chances out front, but the puck couldn’t make its way past the scrum out front. A review followed the scrum and went in favor of the Bruins, keeping the game at 3-1.

Marchand notched the empty netter for his 21st goal of the season to seal it. Pastrnak’s second assist of the game and 32nd of the season helped set it up. The Penguins held a 10-6 shot advantage, bringing the shot total to 30-30 for the game. They had 10 shots in each period. When it all came down to it, the Bruins powered through in a physical game to come out on top. Next up are the Penguins again at 12:30 PM ET on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena. The Bruins are 28-9-12 and have won four of their last six games.

Final Score: 4-1 Boston

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Edmonton at Boston: 1/4/20

Boston Bruins v Edmonton Oilers

Photo Courtesy Of NBC Sports Boston

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (24-7-11)

Away: Edmonton Oilers (21-17-5)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Coyle

Bjork-Lindholm-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Kampfer

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Edmonton’s Lineup

Forwards

Neal-McDavid-Kassian

Nugent-Hopkins-Draisaitl-Yamamoto

Nygard-Haas-Chiasson

Khaira-Sheahan-Archibald

Defense

Klefbom-Larsson

Nurse-Bear

Russell-Jones

Goalies

Smith

Koskinen

First Period

Both teams started a bit slow as they seemed to be trying to feel each other out. The Bruins would get an early power play as Torey Krug was elbowed in the defensive zone. The B’s struck just seconds into the man advantage as David Pastrnak’s shot was deflected into the net off of an Edmonton stick, giving Boston the early lead.

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The B’s continued to get chances in the early going as the power play seemed to give them a spark. The Oilers started to get their legs moving toward the midway point of the period as they got a few chances on Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins responded with a couple of good shifts in the offensive zone to keep the pressure on the Edmonton defense. Boston would get a late period power play to try to double their lead. The Oilers killed off the man advantage despite the B’s moving the puck pretty well.

Edmonton closed out the period with a number of good scoring chances but Halak came up big each time including a monster save on Connor McDavid on a two on one.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Oilers would pick up their first power play of the afternoon as Sean Kuraly was called for tripping early in the period. The B’s killed off the power play as they got a couple of shorthanded chances but more importantly, some big stops by Halak. Neither team seemed to have much of an offensive rhythm in the middle period but that changed immediately as Gaetan Haas buried a bad turnover in the offensive zone to tie the game.

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The Bruins responded with a great shift in the offensive zone to attempt to take the lead back midway through the period. Zdeno Chara went to the box with 7:57 left in the period for holding as Edmonton got an opportunity to take the lead. Boston killed off the man advantage as Edmonton failed to do much of anything in the offensive zone. The Bruins seemed to get moving in the offensive zone toward the end of the period as the game began to open up. Late in the period, Darnell Nurse found the back of the net on a bad angle shot to give Edmonton the lead.

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Score: 2-1 Oilers

Third Period

The Bruins opened the period with a couple of good shifts as they looked to tie the game. McDavid finally broke free and buried his 23rd goal of the season to double the Oilers advantage about two minutes into the period.

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The B’s continued to put pressure on the Oilers in the offensive zone as they shuffled their lines in an attempt to get back in the game. The B’s would get an opportunity as Ethan Bear was called for a high stick, giving Boston their third power play of the game. The Oilers were able to kill off the man advantage despite some solid scoring chances from the Bruins. Edmonton began to take the play to Boston past the midway point of the game, with a ton of possession in the offensive zone.

The B’s pulled Halak with about three minutes to go as they tried desperately to pull closer. Leon Draisaitl buried the empty net goal with nine seconds to go as the Oilers picked up the road victory.

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Final Score: 4-1 Oilers

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: McDavid

Second Star: Smith

Third Star: Moore

Post-Game Report | Boston Bruins Fall to Washington Capitals 3-2

Image result for boston bruins vs washington capitals(Photo Credits: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

There was blood, sweat and hurt officials in Washington D.C. as the two best teams in the NHL faced each other tonight in the nation’s capital. No one said it would be easy and sadly for Bruins fans, it would be the Washington Capitals that came out the victor in a hard-fought game.

In The First

In what was promised to be a real physical game, the Boston Bruins came into the Capital One Arena looking to redeem themselves after the embarrassing 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The history between the two teams does not swing in Boston’s favor as Washington is now 16-1 in the last 17 meetings. With missed great opportunities from both teams, it would the Bruins who’d light up the lamp first. At 9:36, David Pastrnak would nail a slap shot (and his 26th goal) past Washington’s Braden Holtby. The Capitals would charge back, forcing Boston’s Jaroslav Halak to make multiple saves.

The Bruins would send a flurry of pucks towards the Capitals end and with minutes left in the first, Boston would draw their second power-play of the night. In what would’ve been their second goal of the night (and second in two games by Patrice Bergeron), unfortunately, would be ruled an off-side.  With seconds left in the first, both teams traded multiple high chances.

END OF FIRST: Boston-1, Washington-0

SHOTS ON  GOALS: Boston-8, Washington-7

Second Period

Washington would open up the second period on the power-play left over from the first. Boston’s Brad Marchand had a chance on a short-handed goal but was unable to capitalize. As the Caps ended their power-play, the Bruins would be awarded a power-play shortly after for a “too many men on the ice” infarction.

Image result for boston bruins vs washington capitals(Photo Credits: Michael Dwyer/AP)

In a chippy second period, Washington went on the power-play from an interference by Boston’s Chris Wagner. T.J. Oshie tied things up at 4:35 with a power-play goal. Minutes later, Oshie notch his second goal of the night, making the score 2-1. The Caps would draw a holding penalty towards the last minute of the second period but were unable to score.

END OF SECOND: Boston-1, Washington-2

SHOTS ON GOAL: Boston-15, Washington-7

FINAL COUNTDOWN

Seconds into the start of the third period, Boston would head to the power-play as Washington’s Tom Wilson was called for interference. With the power-play opportunity gone, Boston’s Sean Kuraly would score off a deflection from a shot by Torey Krug to tie up the game at 2-2. Minutes later, Washington’s John Carlson would score, putting the Caps ahead 3-2.  Despite last-minute pressure from the Boston team (who had a man advantage), the B’s were unable to make a comeback.

Tremendous plays by both goalies and for Boston, Jaroslav Halak kept the team within a  one-goal reach as the Bruins fall 3-2 in regulation.

FINAL SCORE: 3-2

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: Boston-32, Washington-25

Boston went 0-for-5 on the power-play while the Caps went 1-for-3. Halak made 22 saves. The Bruins are now 20-6-6, with three regulation losses in a row, while the Caps improve to 23-5-5.

WHAT’S NEXT: Boston Bruins face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center tomorrow night with puck drop at 7:00 PM.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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