Boston Bruins: Round 1 Game 4 Preview

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Roman Polak (46) battles Boston Bruins right wing David Backes (42) in front of Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) during second period NHL round one playoff hockey action in Toronto on Monday, April 15, 2018.

Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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

After dropping game 3 in Toronto on Monday, the Boston Bruins look to bounce back and take a stranglehold on this series.

Finally, it took two games, but the Toronto Maple Leafs finally showed up in front of their home fans and put a victory together. While they did win the game and scored four goals, the most significant impact was one by goaltender Fredrick Andersen who stole this game from the Bruins.

The Bruins will need to finish their chances when they come in game 4 as the NHL is a cruel league doesn’t matter how hard or how well you play if you cant finish your chances you’re gonna get burned and the Bruins felt that in game 3.

Look for them to come out strong, they will try and get the crowd out of it early. These should be two desperate hockey clubs as the Toronto Maple Leafs will want to go back to Boston with this series 2-2, but the Bruins will look to crush any hopes the Leafs might have had coming into this game with a victory tonight.

Tomas Plekanec had an incredible game playing alongside Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner the Bruins will need to be more worried about this match-up. Trying to move the Bergeron line away from them might be a difficult task considering this game is in Toronto.

Lineup

 Thing You Need To Know

  • Nazim Kadri is serving the final game of his suspension
  • Matt Grzelcyk is expected to return after missing game 3
  • Leo Komarov is expected to miss his second straight game
  • The home team has won every game in this series

Players To Watch

Boston

David Pastrnak: After being robbed and getting no bounces to go his way for the first time in the series look for the Bruins winger to go back to simple hockey in game 4. David should have nothing to worry about if he keeps playing his game after being held pointless for the first time this round and being on the other end of a save of the year candidate this is what David had to say.

Sean Kuraly: The Bruins fourth line scored both goals for Boston in game 3, and Kuraly picked up two assists giving him three points in three games thus far. This fourth line can prove to be a difference maker for these games in Toronto as Boston looks for them to create momentum in their favor. They can skate with any line, and it will be necessary for Kuraly and his linemates to continue their strong play in game 4.

Toronto 

Patrick Marleau: Marleau picked up two goals Monday night as the Leafs new-look second line seemed to be found money. Playing alongside Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec the trio was able to shut down the Bergeron line which was crucial for the Leafs to win game 3.

Auston Matthews: Ok you guys can put the wanted signs away Matthews showed up in a big way in game 3 scoring the game-winning goal. This will prove to be a killer for the Bruins if they do not reduce his time and space. It was a matter of time for him to get on the board lets just hope a beast hasn’t woken up.

BNG Predictions

Lucas Salvatore: 5-3 Boston

KG: 4-3 Boston

Max Mainville: 4-3 Boston

Mike Cratty: 5-3 Boston

Garrett Haydon: 3-1 Boston

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins: The Worker B’s Have They Finally Found Some New Merlot?

 

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders

Source: Mike Stobe/NHLI

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

Have the Boston Bruins finally found a new consistent fourth line?

Since the separation of the legendary “Merlot Line” which included Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton the Bruins have never really had another dominant fourth line, that was until this season when a new line was formed.

Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller, and Noel Acciari have formed an incredible fourth line this season and have made opponents lives a pure nightmare when they have been on the ice. As this line can become a speed, physical, or shut down unit depending on the other teams playing style. This line has produced a combined 28 goals and 47 points as a unit together which in today’s NHL where everyone needs to be productive it is excellent to see these guys excel together as a group.

Let’s compare the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins fourth line to the 2018 version.

The Merlot Line

Daniel Paille

Regular Season:  43 GP, 6 G, 7 A, +3, 28 PIM

2011 Playoffs:  25 GP, 3 G, 3 A, +2, 4 PIM

Gregory Campbell

Regular Season:  80 GP, 13 G, 16 A, +11, 93 PIM

2011 Playoffs:  25 GP, 1 G, 3 G, -2, 4 PIM

Shawn Thornton

Regular Season:  79 GP, 10 G, 10 A, +8, 122 PIM

2011 Playoffs:  18 GP, 0 G, 1 A, -1, 24 PIM

 

Combined Totals 

Regular Season 

202 GP, 29 G, 33 A, +22, 243 PIM

2011 Playoffs 

68 GP, 4 G, 7 A, -1, 32 PIM

This line was incredible and was for a long time known as the best fourth line in hockey. The heart and determination that was shown between these three guys were magical. No one would work harder than them they were the Boston Bruins heartbeat for many years. Who could forget such iconic moments like Gregory Campbell breaking his leg off of an Evgeni Malkin slapshot and finishing his shift, or Shawn Thornton incredible penalty shot goal against the Winnipeg Jets. The difference between all the lines that came after Merlot was that they never really jelled together as a unit that was until this year when “The Worker B’s” were brought together.

The Worker B’s

Tim Schaller

Regular Season: 82 GP, 12 G, 10 A, -5, 42 PIM

Playoffs Career: 6 GP, 1 G, 0 A, +2, 2 PIM

Sean Kuraly

Regular Season:  75 GP, 6 G, 8 A, -5, 40 PIM

Playoffs Career: 4 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 0, 4 PIM

Noel Acciari

Regular Season: 60 GP, 10 G, 1 A, -6, 9 PIM

Playoffs Career: 4 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 0, 2 PIM

 

Combined Totals

Regular Season

217 GP, 28 G, 19 A, -16, 91 PIM

Playoffs Career

14 GP, 4 G, 0 A, +2, 8 PIM

Seeing a 15 point difference between these two lines does not paint the full picture. They are obviously different, no question fans shouldn’t expect Noel Acciari to be dropping the gloves every night like Shawn Thornton did. But what they can expect is that this line will give one hundred percent of their effort whenever they are on the ice.

This has been for so long what the Bruins have been missing. This trio really is the perfect energy line and an absolute heartbeat to what this Bruins team has been able to accomplish this season. On the video, under Noel Acciari performance you will see a perfect example of what kind of effort this line brings on every given night.

While they may not wow you with incredible talents like teammates Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak, they will go out and shut down opposing teams best units and can step up in various situations if needed. It is the closest they have had to the complete fourth line since the “Merlot Line” fans should see “The Worker B’s” as a modern-day version of the “Merlot Line.” Look for “The Worker B’s” to be a vital part of this years playoff run and should be an X-factor against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Post a comment let us know what you think!

Bruins Answer The Bell Against Lightning

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(Adam Richins/Boston Sports Journal)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

On the Bruins’ recent West Coast road trip, we’ve heard a lot about the teams’ lack of physicality and how it could be a crucial thing missing from the lineup come playoff time. We’ve heard a lot about how the Bruins lack a true tough guy from the same mold as a Shawn Thornton-type player. Certainly, with the way this league is trending, we’re seeing teams go away from the traditional enforcer-type and go with younger, faster, more skilled players.

This idea with the Bruins lack of physicality was stopped cold last night. Seemingly from the start, the B’s came out the aggressor. Tommy Wingels was physical right away, with a big check on Mikhail Sergachev. Wingels has been one the biggest proponents of physical play seemingly right from his move from Chicago.

The Bruins took it to the Lightning all night and clearly asserted their status as the first place team in the Atlantic Division. No example was more perfect than the scrum that took place midway through the second period. On a net drive, Corey Conacher shoved Brandon Carlo into Tuukka Rask who took great exception and took a few swings at Conacher. Even the Bruins goalie was not about to let the Lightning assert themselves.

Other instances included David Pastrnak having a go with Dan Girardi and David Backes mixing it up with the Lightning bench. This Bruins team won’t take any crap from anyone, and the most important part is they have each other’s back. They are willing to go to war for their teammates and honestly I’ve not seen this type of fight from this team since the Stanley Cup runs from 2011 and 2013.

When the Bruins as a team get physical, there is no stopping them, not even the high-octane offense of the Lightning who looked to be out of their comfort zone the more physical the game got. If the Bruins can play this way consistently in the postseason, there’s no reason to think they could be playing deep into May, and possibly even June.

One of the key things I noticed last night was the physical tone set by the fourth line of Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari, and Wingels. They were first to nearly every puck and put a body on every Lightning player when they had the opportunity. Schaller even buried a goal on a net drive late in the first period. The “Granite Man” in fact drove to the net so hard, he knocked the entire goal over.

Wingels was in the lineup after it was announced Sean Kuraly would miss the game with an upper-body injury. Regardless, the fourth line this entire season has been a very quality line. Outside of the first line, this fourth line might be the best line on the team. The Bruins haven’t had a fourth line this successful since the days of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Thornton. Having a capable fourth line is a big key to a deep playoff run for this Bruins team, and Bruce Cassidy clearly trusts this line in any situation.

Last night, the Bruins more than brought the hammer and looked to set up shop in Tampa’s head especially late in the game. If the physical play was a question mark, the B’s passed that test with flying colors last night, playing with an edge none of us have seen in quite a long time. One thing’s for sure, this Bruins team can answer any challenge. If they continue to answer these challenges in the postseason, we’ll be gearing up for another Duck Boat parade.

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 72

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Photo Credit: Rich Gagnon (Getty Images)

By KG | Follow on Twitter @kgbngblog | FanCred at K G

PREGAME NOTES

Torey Krug steps out of the lineup tonight after a very physically demanding game for him on Monday, leaving players like Miller and Carlo to anchor the defense tonight. Jordan Szwarz comes into the lineup along with Paul Postma. Anton Khudobin heads into the goal countering Jake Allen at the other end.

What I Am Looking Forward To

Nick Holden/Brandon Carlo is written as the first pairing, but I’d be cautious to not let them play all the big minutes when you have a solid pair of Grzelcyk and Miller waiting on the bench. David Krejci will be the center for two rookies tonight, something that has worked in the past with DeBrusk, but with two it may be a different story.

PERIOD ONE

Krejci woke everyone up a minute and a half into the game as he rang the outside post with his shot after some simple, yet effective, moves. Boston would play the majority of the first five minutes in the Blues’ zone because of their ability to cycle the puck and keep possession of the puck. The Bruins headed to the power play after a textbook crosscheck from Todd Bortuzzo that was pretty dangerous. Boston went right to work, but were slowed down when a pileup of players pinned the puck along the boards, which killed off some extra time but when St. Louis was trying to clear it, the puck went off of a referee’s skate and into the slot, where the Boy Wonder Ryan Donato was powering into where he took a one-timer that beat Jake Allen. The B’s continued to keep up the aggressive pressure in the offensive end. Anton Khudobin looked very shaky in nets but he was able to stay in position and keep the puck out of the net. With 00.4 seconds left in the period, some extracurricular activities started after a big hit from Shosnikov on Riley Nash. Boston would head into the dressing room with a one-goal lead.

Scoring

BOS – Donato PP (Pastrnak)

STL – N/A

PERIOD TWO

The teams started off 4-on-4 after the two minor penalties from the first period. This would result in a lot of odd-man chances for the Blues, but Khudobin continued to stand strong. Boston had some trouble entering the zone when they didn’t have the numbers advantage early on but adjusted on the fly. Anton Khudobin continued to make clutch saves that kept the Bruins in the game. David Krejci was hit directly in the head as he came up the boards with the puck. This would result in only two minutes, which the Bruins players didn’t like. As the Bruins started to set up in the Blues’ zone, Danton Heinen was assessed a minor penalty for a one-handed slash which brought the game to 4-on-4. The teams would continue to get chances at both ends, but St. Louis got more of them in the last few minutes, making Khudobin work extra hard in net. Boston would hold onto their first-period lead going into the third period.

Scoring

BOS – N/A

STL – N/A

PERIOD THREE

Boston continued to have issues breaking through the St. Louis’ defencemen but would still try and try again until they could find a lane. Anton Khudobin continued to bail out the Bruins’ defensive play. The St. Louis defense did a great job of holding their offensive line and extending plays and getting pucks on net. Boston’s bad defensive play would eventually catch up to them when they let Jaden Schwartz walk in over their blue line and wire a shot that finally beat Khudobin. St. Louis would then take the momentum that they had from the goal and channel it into offensive pressure. But once again, Anton Khudobin stepped up and made the plays he needed to put the Bruins in a position to win the game. Boston would get some decent chances at the other end, but couldn’t get another one past Allen. In the dying seconds of the third period, the Bruins started to scramble in their own end, leading to a diving back-handed shot on net that Khudobin dove to get as he was sitting on the ice and knocked it away from the open net. And for the second year in a row, the Boston Bruins are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of the point they were guaranteed from going to OT.

Scoring

BOS – N/A

STL – Schwartz (Steen, Schenn)

OT

The Blues didn’t want this going too long. It only took 30 seconds for Jaden Schwartz to score his second of the night on a simple wirst shot. But on the bright side, both teams got what they needed for playoff implications.

Scoring

BOS – N/A

STL – Schwartz (Parayko)

POSTGAME

While injuries are common to all team in the NHL, the Bruins seem to be dealing with far too many, even for a team that plays the fast-paced, hard-hitting style they do. Tonight was statistically the hardest game for them with injury losses. If the Bruins want a shot at the top spot in the East and potentially the NHL, they’ll need to get healthy. And quickly.

KG’s Three Stars Of The Game

1st: Ryan Donato – After his incredible first game, Donato was bound to have an average game. And while he did play average, he also scored the Bruins only goal of the game after he made a heads-up play to follow the puck instead of heading to the place everyone else was looking. He was also one of the two players to get a point tonight (Pastrnak was the only assist on the goal). He has a bright future on this team as long as they don’t overplay him.

2nd: Anton Khudobin – The Bruins clinched tonight because of Khudobin. And while both goals he gave up weren’t the best shots ever, he kept them in the game all night. Specifically, in the dying seconds when he threw what parts of his body he could in front of the sprawling emptiness of the net to keep the Blues from scoring.

3rd: Kevan Miller – Miller was given the task of stepping up to replace players like Krug, Chara, and McAvoy, and he did a pretty solid job. He played 24:17 tonight, the second most on the team only behind Nick Holden. While he didn’t make it on the scoresheet, he did leave an impression on the St. Louis players. He was physical as he usually is and created offense with his skating. A very under-rated part of the core defencemen.

MUP (Most Under-Appreciated Player): Sean Kuraly – Every time I saw him in the offensive zone, he was mucking it up in the corners or battling in front of the net. This is the kind of guy that you want on your team, and the Bruins are lucky to have him.

BIRDHOUSE – Round-up of the best Tweets during the game

NEXT GAME

Friday, March 23rd, in Boston vs the Stars

 

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 66

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Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

By KG | Follow on twitter @kgbngblog | FanCred at K G

PREGAME NOTES

The only big change coming to the lineup was Nick Holden replacing Adam McQuaid. With all of the depth that the Bruins have, Bruce Cassidy is able to change people in and out as he pleases to allow players to rest so that they are fresh going into the playoffs. Tuukka Rask will take the net for the B’s as Berube goes in for the Blackhawks.

What I Am Looking Forward To

This is the first game of a home and home with Chicago. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any major physical plays that will be remembered and transferred to tomorrows game. Chicago is always dangerous and the Bruins need to respect that if they want to be able to have a shot at winning this game, no matter how Chicago may look in the standings.

PERIOD ONE

The period opened up with the Bruins struggling to move the puck into Chicago’s zone because of Chicago’s active stick play. The Blackhawks were on the attack right away, getting lots of chances and shots at the net, even springing Patrick Sharp on a breakaway, but he found the post. A fight broke out by the benches between John Hayden and Sean Kuraly. That fight won’t be on Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em anytime soon as it was just a wrestling match. The Bruins got on the power play after a Jurco penalty, but couldn’t get a good entry on the majority of their tries and Chicago was able to kill it off. Brad Marchand got into some penalty trouble after a collision with Anthony Duclair. While it did look like he tried to get out of the way but he definitely got his hands up high on Duclair. On the ensuing penalty kill, Sean Kuraly made a great play on a D-toD pass and jumped up on the play to force his own breakaway where Noel Acciari potted the rebound. After Murphy took a penalty for slew-footing Brad Marchand, the Bruins were having a lot of trouble with getting into the zone and setting up but as the power play was coming to a close, Jake DeBrusk made a great play down low to steal the puck and get it in front to David Krejci who had all the time in the world to pick his target and score. Boston was up 2-0, but as soon you thought the Bruins were safe, Chicago put up two unanswered goals to tie it. Both were shots from the point that had a lot of people in front screening.

Scoring

BOS – Acciari PK (Kuraly), Krejci PP (DeBrusk, Holden)

CHI – Toews (Gustafsson, Kane), Gustafsson (Schmaltz, DeBrincat)

PERIOD TWO

Boston got off to a good start in the offensive end. Rick Nash did a good job of moving the puck from behind the net to the high slot but wasn’t able to get too many chances other than that. As Boston was trying to control the puck near their blueline with close to thirteen minutes left in the period, Kampf made a great play in the neutral zone to steal the puck and get it to Hayden who took a great shot that rang off of the post and in to put Chicago up 3-2. After Riley Nash had his hand chopped, the Bruins were sent on the power play, where Jake DeBrusk sped by everyone on the outside to go low and behind the net. But just before he got behind the net, he saw David Krejci all alone in front and found him with a great pass where Krejci scored. Back even at 3-3. This didn’t last long though, as Matthew Highmore scored his first career NHL goal on a moving shot from the faceoff dot. The period ended 4-3.

Scoring

BOS – Krejci PP (DeBrusk, Gionta)

CHI – Hayden (Kampf, Seabrook), Highmore (Gustafsson, Anisimov)

PERIOD THREE

Boston came out hungry for the puck. Earlier in the game, you could see that Boston wasn’t winning the battles they needed to but they turned that around in the first half of the third period. They were playing hard on the puck, making those quick little passes to open up space and playing well along the boards. This resulted in a zone entry where Marchand rifled a shot off of the shoulder of the goalie where the puck popped off and dropped to the streaking Pastrnak who was crashing the net. After the goal, Patrick Kane was trying to get the puck away from Sean Kuraly, bur caught him in the face with his stick and drew blood, resulting in a four-minute double minor for Chicago. Boston took full advantage of this, with both Brian Gionta and Rick Nash scoring on great plays in front of the net. After those two goals, Chicago started to panic and took yet another penalty for tripping. This was killed off and with about two minutes left in the game, Chicago pulled their goalie, where Sean Kuraly scored to end the game.

Scoring

BOS – Pastrnak (Marchand, Riley Nash), Gionta PP (DeBrusk, Grzelcyk), Rick Nash PP (Krug, Marchand), Kuraly EN (Schaller, Chara)

CHI – N/A

POSTGAME

Just look at all of the chances that Boston had compared to Chicago. While Chicago focused on the low-right side, the left side of the blueline and front of the net, Boston took shots from everywhere, keeping Berube on his toes all game.

KG’s Three Stars Of The Game

1st: Jake DeBrusk – What a game by the rookie. He assisted on three goals, including the game-winner and all of his assists came on the power play. He also had six shots on net that led the team.

2nd: David Krejci – After being very close to a hat-trick himself, Krejci deserves all of the praise he gets. Both of his goals came from great positioning in front of the net.

3rd: Sean Kuraly – A real gritty game for Kuraly, as he got a Gordie Howe hat-trick with a stick to the face too. A great game for a player who wasn’t on the scoresheet as much as he would have liked to in the past couple of games.

MUP (Most Under-Appreciated Player): Nick Holden – He may have only had one assist and no shots during the game, but when tou look at how the Gionta and Rick Nash goals were scored, you’ll see that Holden held the puck in the zone and was able to make a play with it. The Bruins wouldn’t have gotten those go-ahead goals without him.

BIRDHOUSE – Round-up of the best Tweets during the game

NEXT GAME

Sunday, March 11th in Chicago

 

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

An Early Look at 2018 Free-Agency, And Who Could Be The Next Bruin

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Photo: nhl.com

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

The front office of the Boston Bruins has shown that they have a strong grasp on the idea that the success of the franchise hinges on drafting and developing talent, retaining character individuals, and inserting capable veterans that fit their idea of roster needs with regards to maximizing roles. Part of that last bit comes with shrewd and thoughtful spending as one bad contract can set a franchise back for years in terms of cap flexibility and blocking youth from having a spot where they could potentially contribute on the NHL level.

That said, I feel it’s never to early to start looking at the 2018 free agent market. There will be a number of valuable assets to be courted by seasons end and in the spirit of staying ahead of the game, I have a short list of names General Manager Don Sweeney and company may target when the signing period begins this summer.

Here are some key veterans to keep your eye on, in no particular order:


Patric Hornqvist, RW

2017-18 Cap Hit: $4,250,000

Having watched him for a number of years with the Nashville Predators, Hornqvist has only scratched the surface when it comes to being recognized by the general NHL audience. Criminally underrated while being masked by his big-name counterparts in Pittsburgh these last few seasons, the right-winger has put together a body of work that many teams will no doubt find attractive this summer. While his name isn’t a ‘sexy’ addition for most fans, Hornqvist does all the little things that the Boston faithful would fall in love with. His willingness to shoot, hit, and get into the dirty areas and grind for possession always stood out to me. He’s an agitator on the ice and will draw penalties. He will get under the skin of the defensemen as he sticks his face in every cover-up the opposing goalie is forced into. Hornqvist is a hockey-player’s hockey player if you understand what I mean. His downside? His style of play puts in harm’s way often and at 31 years-old, injuries and general instances of getting banged up are commonplace. With youth behind him to fill gaps, Patric could find a valuable roll on a team that loves leadership and work-ethic.


Michael Grabner, RW

2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,650,000

30 year-old Michael Grabner is about as valuable a bottom-six winger can be in todays NHL. He possess above average speed and a strong level of hockey intelligence. Any coach appreciates his message being enforced night-in, night-out by a respected on-ice leader, and Grabner gives you just that. He’s very useful on the penalty kill, and is reliable in both 5-5 and 4-4 situations. Ultimately a ‘safe’ get for any potential suitor,  I would project him to look at going to a team that can contend quickly for reasonable money rather than go somewhere that a cup may be out of reach for a payday.


John Carlson, D

2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,966,667

Washington can’t let this guy go without a sizable effort to resign, can they? The Cap’s have had a tough stretch for their defensive unit as of late in losing Shattenkirk and Alzner last offseason. Add to that a handful of injury issues they’ve had to deal with this year, and Washington would appear to be borderline desperate to lock down Carlson to stabilize the blue line for a few more cup runs during Ovechkin’s tenure. While amassing above average minutes for a good amount of his season, Carlson has showcased his durability and value for his current team as well as a ton of potential suitors who will no doubt be slapping some chair-tops and waving him over in a few months. No brainer thing to say: Carlson is going to make a ton of money this summer.


Calvin de Haan, D
2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,300,000

This one won’t get many excited but a smart team will take a good look at him come July. Basically sheltered from the league playing in Brooklyn right now, de Haan has been a low-key favorite of the Islanders fans, and for good reason. He’s a worker, though nothing stands out about his play. Keep in mind that sometimes hearing little about a defenseman is a good thing. He keeps mistakes to a minimum, blocks shots, can possess the puck well, and is a reliable piece for any team in need. One reason he’s on this list is because everything you’d want in Nick Holden, who the Bruins recently dealt for, is actually there in de Haan. Additionally, if Boston moves a player like  Brandon Carlo at the deadline for a piece that may not be there next year, de Haan could be looked at to fill a role for the 2018-19 season and thereafter.


Antti Raanta, G

2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,000,000

Raanta is only 29, which is a good age for netminders in terms of experience and longevity for his next suitor. Also at that age teams know what they’re getting when it comes to skill level. Raanta is developed and could be a stable and afforded back-up behind Tuukka Rask. While Arizona is toiling this year, one bright spot has been the consistent play of Raanta. His numbers are among the best of his career and he has shown himself worthy of a job next season for a number of net-needy organizations. This move could be an affordable and sensible way to go should Anton Khudobin’s asking price be too high for Boston to bring him back.

Key Bruins free-agents this offseason include RFA’s: Ryan Spooner, Sean Kuraly, and Austin Czarnik as well as UFA’s: Riley Nash and Tim Schaller. It would be great to see Spooner and Nash back but their play has likely priced themselves out of Boston’s spending intentions. Additionally, while I would personally hate to lose him, Czarnik has doubled his value and deserves a shot as an NHL roster mainstay and unfortunately as things look right now on paper, it may not be in Boston.

In time we will see these storylines develop. For now it’s just all something we need to keep in the back of our minds, although undoubtedly the front office is way ahead of us all.

 

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins Win Back-To-Back Games On The Road

(Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

By Mike Cratty                                                           Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

To say the Boston Bruins are rolling is an understatement. After winning 18 of their last 23 games, the Bruins are continuing to show they are a bonafide threat in the NHL. To put things in perspective a little more, they are in the second place in the NHL and the Atlantic division.

They have plenty of skill, but it’s not always flashiness that wins games. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it yet again, they find different ways to win by wearing teams down. Their scoring attack has become so balanced and their team defense has risen to become the NHL’s best. Not to mention Tuukka Rask has played better than any other goalie in the NHL since late November. Anton Khudobin has continued to back Tuukka up sufficiently during that time period, which never hurts.

Following a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last Saturday, a back-to-back against two Eastern Conference foes, the Detroit Red Wings, and the New York Rangers lied ahead. Being two struggling teams, the Bruins took advantage of their deficiencies enough to win both games. Their record now stands at 33-11-8, with 74 points.

Tuukka Rask started in Detroit, in a game where Austin Czarnik and Torey Krug were in familiar territory. A 3-2 victory came out of it in a game where the excitement was saved mainly for the later portion. Two rookies, in particular, shined in Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly, who both picked up a goal and an assist. David Krejci tallied the other goal, his 10th of the season.

Things almost got out of hand when Wings forward Frans Nielsen made it 3-2 off a rebound with 1:24 remaining in the third period. Luckily the Bruins held on for the win after Charlie McAvoy pinned the puck in the corner after what went on to be the final faceoff.

It’ll be tough for teams like the Red Wings and the Panthers to make up much ground in the Atlantic, seeing as there is currently a 17-point gap between the third and fourth place teams, in Toronto and Florida. The Bruins made it a little tougher and made things a bit more interesting for themselves, setting up for an important contest at Madison Square Garden the next night.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning dropping five of their last 10 games, now is a great time for a leapfrog attempt into first place in the Atlantic, and possibly the NHL, for the Bruins. Their 6-1 throttling of the struggling New York Rangers will help out with that. After an early goal from Rick Nash to make it 1-0, the Bruins woke up and potted six unanswered goals, eventually chasing Henrik Lundqvist from the crease. There is one point separating the Bruins and the Lightning and first place.

Tim Schaller, or Pavel Datsyuk? You tell me. One of the highlights of the night and honestly the season. The New Hampshire native, former Providence Friar, and fourth-liner, Tim Schaller, undresses Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith and puts in an off-balance beauty.

The other five goals on the night came from Patrice Bergeron, who had two, building on his case for the Hart Trophy, Zdeno Chara, Riley Nash, and Sean Kuraly. Sean Kuraly is getting his offensive game going a little bit over the past two games, which is never a bad thing to see from a fourth-liner. Anton Khudobin made 21 saves in net, partly thanks to the defense flustering the Rangers offense for the good majority of the game.

63+37=100. Marchand picked up a lone assist on this goal after returning from his five-game suspension. Shorthanded goals like that shouldn’t be allowed.

The Bruins get some rest before taking on the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden, followed by the New Jersey Devils on the road in the Prudential Center, the next day. Who doesn’t love back-to-back weekend games? As long as the Bruins keep the tempo up, they’ll be hard to play against and make teams have to fight for two points. No one is making it hard to do so in the NHL right now than the Bruins.

BFR1 – Game 21 – Cranberry Sauce

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                     Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins push their win streak to 4 in a row, they go with a wonky lineup, Khudobin and DeBrusk are on fire, and I gained about 20 pounds just from Thanksgiving. These things and more in a very thankful edition of BFR!