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

After A Switch To Left Wing, Frederic Is Ready To Step Up His Offensive Game

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Carrie Young | Follow Me On Twitter @carrieyoung512

“A real solid two-way center with size” are the words that John Ferguson Jr., executive director of player personnel for the Boston Bruins, used to describe Trent Frederic after he was drafted in 2016. The Bruins had just missed the playoffs for the second year in a row and were looking for players who could make an impact at the NHL level in the near future. They certainly found that in Charlie McAvoy, who was chosen with the first of the Bruins’ two first-round picks that year.

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Fifteen picks later, at twenty-ninth overall, fellow USA Hockey National Team Development Program alum Trent Frederic heard his name called and donned the spoked B for the first time. The pick used to draft Frederic was acquired a year earlier when Boston traded goalie Martin Jones to San Jose in exchange for a 2016 first-rounder and prospect Sean Kuraly. Jones had just carried the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final a few weeks before the draft, so all eyes were on the Bruins to see if the trade could work out in their favor.

Though Frederic was labeled by Bruins scouts as “[not] a top two-line guy,” the first-round label placed high expectations on the young prospect’s shoulders. He played for two years at the University of Wisconsin before making the jump to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He also made the USA World Junior Championship team in 2018. At every level throughout the years, he played center. He was drafted as a center and even had an opportunity to center Boston’s third line in the 2018-19 season.

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This season, though, the Bruins coaching staff decided to switch it up. When Frederic was called up to Boston due to injuries, he was put on the fourth line’s left-wing alongside Par Lindholm and Paul Carey. Though he didn’t register a point in two games, he was put back on the left-wing after he returned to Providence. The Bruins’ game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 22nd saw Frederic in the starting lineup on the left side of Cameron Hughes.

“It was my first time playing left-wing [in Providence], so it was my third game in a long time, but I felt really comfortable,” Frederic said after the game. “[Cameron Hughes] and [Jakub Lauko] helped me, so sometimes I was playing on the right, or sometimes I was playing middle or center down low, so it was good. I had some more chances to make plays on the left-wing tonight, more [plays] came to me. So, I don’t have much experience, but I liked it.”

The switch seems to have sparked Frederic’s offensive abilities. He scored his first goal of the year in the win against Bridgeport, then went on to score another goal two days later against the Hershey Bears. He also added two assists in that span.

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The Providence coaching staff recognized that Frederic was looking comfortable on the wing, so he has mainly been playing that role ever since. Saturday night’s game against Charlotte marks the fourth time in the past five games that Frederic has started on the left side. This doesn’t mean that the Bruins no longer see him as a candidate to fill in at center in Boston, but it does prove that he could be more versatile than previously thought. With centers Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Charlie Coyle now locked up for multiple years, Frederic might have a better opportunity to make an impact in the NHL on the wing. His two-way ability and physical presence have been proven. A little more offense will go a long way, no matter what position he plays.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 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: Tampa Bay at Boston: 10/17/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Home: Boston Bruins (5-1-0)

Away: Tampa Bay Lightning (3-2-1)

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Ritchie

Heinen-Lindholm-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Stamkos-Point-Kucherov

Killorn-Cirelli-Joseph

Palat-Johnson-Gourde

Maroon-Verhaeghe-Witkowski

Defense

Hedman-Cernak

McDonagh-Shattenkirk

Coburn-Sergachev

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

McElhinney

First Period

The Bruins surrendered a few scoring chances in the opening moments as the Lightning looked ready to play from puck drop. Luckily for Boston, Tuukka Rask was on his game early, making a few saves in close. Brad Marchand nearly gave the B’s the early lead but hit the glove side post of Andrei Vasilevskiy less than three minutes into the game. The Bruins continued to have trouble getting their offensive game going as the Lightning dominated the early possession game. The B’s would get a power play opportunity as Mikhail Sergachev went to the box with 10:33 left in the period. David Pastrnak found the back of the net yet again just seconds into the man advantage to give the Bruins the lead.

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Sean Kuraly was called for hooking shortly after the goal, giving Tampa Bay a chance to tie the game. The B’s killed off the penalty without surrendering any significant scoring chances, keeping them in the lead. The Bruins seemed to gain some momentum after the man advantage, firing a couple shots on Vasilevskiy. Patrice Bergeron was called for slashing with under four minutes to go in the period, giving the Lightning another opportunity. The B’s killed off the penalty to Bergeron, surrendering a few shots on goal. Brayden Point got lost at the blue line and scored on a breakaway, barely beating the buzzer to tie the game.

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Score: Tied 1-1

Second Period

The B’s had some good early legs in the opening moments of the period and they got a few solid scoring chances. The Bruins picked up another power play opportunity as Carter Verhaeghe went to the box for tripping. The Lightning killed off the penalty and even got a shorthanded breakaway. The B’s would get yet another man advantage opportunity shortly after, as Yanni Gourde took an interference penalty. Bergeron gave the B’s the lead again off of a beautiful slap pass from Pastrnak on the power play.

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The Lightning evened it up quickly as Mathieu Joseph tapped in a rebound behind Rask to make it 2-2.

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The B’s and Lightning continued the trend of trading chances with both teams going end to end pretty consistently. The Bruins started to turn the puck over and get beat to the dirty areas as the Lightning started to surge late in the period. The Bruins picked up their fourth power play of the game as Karson Kuhlman drew a penalty with his great speed. The Lightning killed off the penalty as they got a few shorthanded opportunities.

Score: Tied 2-2

Third Period

Neither team came out with much jump to start the period as the game’s intensity began to pick up. The Bruins began to surge almost midway through the period, getting a number of chances in the offensive zone. Matt Grzelcyk was called for a penalty with 11:35 to play as the Lightning went to the power play looking to take the lead. The B’s killed it off as the Lightning failed to get any scoring chances. The Bruins continued to be the aggressor in the third period, getting multiple shifts with extended time in the attacking zone.

Kevin Shattenkirk gave the Lightning their first lead of the game with 4:47 to go with a quick shot through Rask.

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The Bruins would go to the man advantage less than a minute after the goal as Anthony Cirelli was called for tripping. Pastrnak tied the game on the power play after his shot was deflected into the net off of a Tampa Bay stick.

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Score: Tied 3-3

Overtime

Both teams had some spectacular chances including the Bruins hitting the goal post on a shot by Kuraly but neither team could find the back of the net and game went to a shootout.

Shootout

Steven Stamkos scored the only goal in the shootout and the Lightning handed the B’s their second loss of the season.

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Final Score: 4-3 Lightning

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Pastrnak. Another strong game from Number 88 continues his great start to the season, totaling two goals and an assist.

Second Star: Bergeron. The B’s top center recorded a power play strike and an assist.

Third Star: Rask. The Bruins goaltender kept the team in the game all night and made some huge saves especially in the third period and overtime.

Krejci Injured In Bruins Win. Who Steps Up?

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Stop me if you have heard this one before. David Krejci leaves the game in the first period with the ever-ambiguous Lower Body Injury (LBI). Unfortunately, this is not the story from the September 25th preseason game versus the Devils being looped for eternity like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. It is the current bad news coming in the aftermath of the Bruins 4-2 matinee victory over the surprising Anaheim Ducks.

Krejci left the game with about four minutes to go in the first period and headed to the dressing room. He came back out for the second period and skated for about half a shift. He had a 2-on-1 with DeBrusk but then appeared to be laboring heading back up ice as the Bruins gave up a 3-on-1. That was it for Krejci, as he left the ice and didn’t return, leaving the Bruins a center short for the remainder of the game.

I went back and watched the first-period last night and it appeared to me that the injury occurred with a little less than eight minutes to go in the session. The Ducks were coming out of their end and DeBrusk got a piece of an outlet pass. The puck deflected in the air, Krejci reached up and gloved it down to himself. As he did and brought the puck over the blue line, Getzlaf gave him what looked like a pretty nasty short cross-check to his side/rib area.

I can’t help but wonder if this might be one of the reasons the Bruins seemed extremely annoyed with Getzlaf later in the game? I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on TV, but if I had to guess, it looked like it could have been a rib injury? Hopefully, it’s something relatively minor and Krejci is back soon. It seems like this might be the case based on comments from Bruce Cassidy on Tuesday afternoon?

One of the keys to the B’s success in the last couple of years is depth in the middle. Two years ago it was Bergeron, Krejci, Nash, and Kuraly. Last season, once they traded for Coyle, the team really began to roll. This year they start the season with the same group that went to the Finals. If Krejci is not ready to go on Thursday, or worse, if he’s out longer, what options do the Bruins have to replace him and maintain that strength at center?

If Krejci is only going to be out for a couple of games, the easiest thing for the Bruins to do would be simply to plug Par Lindholm into the lineup. He could go directly into Krejci’s spot on the 2nd line between DeBrusk and Kuhlman, leaving the other three lines intact. The other relatively “easy fix” would be to put Lindholm into the lineup, but slide Coyle up into the 2nd line center spot. That would (hopefully) allow the Bruins to generate offense from the 2nd line. Lindholm would likely center Heinen and Ritchie, creating a defensively sound Bottom Six until Krejci can return.

NHL Pre-Season: Chicago Blackhawks Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images)

If Krejci turns out to be more seriously hurt and out of the lineup for an extended period, the Bruins might decide they need to go in a different direction? While the first line is carrying the team right now, I don’t believe that’s a sustainable formula for winning over the long term. Depth and secondary scoring are the way to go in today’s NHL. With that in mind, I could see the Bruins reaching down to Providence for guys like Studnicka or Frederic.

I believe they would prefer to keep Studnicka in the AHL to learn how to play against pros for the majority of a season before calling him up. If Krejci were to be out for a long period of time, they might not have that luxury? Lindholm has more experience, but it appears that Studnicka has more upside and offers more on the offensive side of the puck than the Swedish veteran does. Through four games in Providence, Studnicka has yet to score his first goal, but he does have two assists and is a “plus” two, with six shots.

Jack-Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Frederic has NHL experience and would offer a different kind of option for the Bruins. He’s bigger and more physical than Studnicka. He could slot in with Heinen and Ritchie forming a pretty heavy group that Cassidy would likely give 4th line minutes to. After his stint with the big club last season, Frederic is probably more physically and mentally prepared than a rookie would be. The issue with him is that he appears to have gotten off to a bit of a slow start in Providence. I’m not sure how much this would factor into the front office’s decision-making process?

The last candidate on the Baby B’s is Brendan Gaunce. It’s not a name that will immediately spring to mind for most Bruins fans, but he might be the best choice. The former first-round pick looked really good in training camp. I thought he out-played Ritchie and Backes and had he been right-handed, likely would have made the team outright. He’s a big body (6’2″, 220 pounds) that can play a physical game, but moves well for his size. He also has 117 NHL games under his belt over the past four seasons, which gives him an edge over Studnicka and Fredric. Last year in Utica he had 16g/22a in 60 games, so he is not without offensive skills.

Is Gaunce the answer for Krejci if he’s out for a long period of time? Probably not, but he would be serviceable for a few games. Gaunce would actually be a much better replacement for Kuraly if he ever went down. I like him in a Bottom 6 role, but I don’t think he’s a Top 6 talent on a playoff team.

Best case scenario, Krejci’s injury is not serious, he misses little to no time, and this whole conversation is moot. If Krejci is out longer, the Bruins will have some trouble filling that spot, unless someone like Studnicka proves to be ahead of schedule. Not an ideal situation to be sure, but the Bruins dealt with injury successfully last season. It looks like they will have to do it again.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode 002 that we recorded on 10-8-19 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!

How Can The Bruins Utilize Charlie Coyle

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

By: Scott Delano | Follow Me On Twitter @Scottdelano3

There’s been a lot of talk of moving Charlie Coyle up to the second line to play alongside David Krejci to give the centerman more of a constant on his right side. While there’s no doubt that he is capable of playing the right-wing, he helps the team more playing in the middle of the ice.

Charlie has played an average of 77 games over the past 6 years. There is no question he has what it takes to play big minutes. He was a staple of consistency in the playoffs for the Bruins last year tallying 16 points in 24 games after putting up subpar numbers of 6 in 21 regular-season games for the Bruins.

I am a huge fan of Charlie Coyle. He’s a Boston guy with size, speed, and vision. He is not afraid to go into the corners and battle for a puck, and he does a great job of using his body to maintain possession coming off the boards.

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I want to purpose a different option. Instead of moving Charlie to the second line, what if we dropped him to the fourth line? It sounds crazy saying when I read it aloud, but Coach Bruce Cassidy utilizes his fourth line as Brad Marchand has said: “That’s not the fourth line… that’s 1A.”

Not afraid to start the fourth line against the opposing team’s first line, they usually set the tempo. During Boston’s 19 game point streak from 1/29/2019 – 3/10/2019, the fourth line started almost every one of those games. Cassidy will put them out on the ice in any situation.

The fourth line has many options. Last year we saw the fourth line consist of Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, David Backes, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciarri. Acciari is now a member of the Florida Panthers. Wagner and Nordstrom are coming off an injury sustained at the end of the year. Backes is being floated between the third line, fourth line, and press box. Kuraly is still here doing what he does best.

A fourth line of Sean Kuraly on the left, Charlie Coyle in the middle and Bret Ritchie on the right, could be the next coming of the merlot line. They wouldn’t drop the gloves as much, but it’d be a line we would love to watch with speed, physicality, and a lot of skill. They would create a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. You could even call it the third line if you wanted.

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We’ve already seen in the first two games that Cassidy is willing to put Kuraly on the left side. Ritchie has played on the right side of Coyle developing chemistry. And a third line of Danton Heinen, Par Lindholm and either David Backes or Chris Wagner would work for now without changing the roster.

By moving Coyle to the fourth line, the third line center position opens. Patrice Bergeron is 34 years old. David Krejci is 33 years old, and Coyle himself is a free agent at the end of this year. Though Par Lindholm is there now, Boston needs to introduce some youth at the center position to their lineup, and the third line is the perfecting learning area.

Jack Studnicka is making noise and could greatly benefit from watching and learning from these three centers. If not Studnicka, Trent Frederick is a former first-round pick with size could be an option on the third line. I would just like to see a player allotted time to learn from our great centers before it’s too late

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 148 that we recorded on 10-6-19 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 Enjoy Solid Depth At Center

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

The 2018-2019 season began with the question of who should be the Bruins’ third-line center. The first five months of the season was used to experiment with a number of options. Even when Boston traded fan-favorite Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for East Weymouth-native Charlie Coyle not long before the trade deadline in February, many had their doubts about whether a permanent solution had been found.

Although Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has taken a look at Coyle in preseason as a potential fit for the second-line right wing position, Coyle has shown in game action that he is still a force at center and can continue to be a key piece of a dominant bottom six.

Assuming Coyle does start the season the way he ended the last campaign, at 3C, that means the Bruins will likely have one of the best lineups down the middle in the National Hockey League. Along with Coyle, veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci and fourth-line stalwart Sean Kuraly have proven their worth to the team time and time again.

Cassidy touched on the importance of depth at center in a recent press conference. The coach sounded like he would love to see Coyle fill the third-line pivot role, with Karson Kuhlman or another player slotting in on Krejci’s right wing on the second line instead of Coyle.

With veterans Bergeron and Krejci leading the way, Coyle winning over the fans and coaching staff and Kuraly showing that he is the quintessential fourth-line center that can bring a spark of energy and eat up hard minutes while providing offense in clutch moments, the Bruins seem to be entering the 2019-2020 season with a solid core at center.

However, Bergeron and Krejci are aging, and Bergeron is entering yet another season bothered with nagging injury issues. Krejci was also injured early in the first period of Monday night’s preseason tilt against the Flyers, although initial reports following the game indicated that Krejci’s lower body injury was not considered serious.

In addition to this already stellar lineup, the Bruins added more depth during the offseason with the signings of free agents Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm, and David Backes can also comfortably take shifts at center if needed.

Looking past the next few seasons, Boston appears well-positioned to continue to be strong up the middle when Bergeron and Krejci retire. The team’s prospect stable boasts a few players in various stages of development, including Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka and 2019 first-round draft pick John Beecher, who look to have the  size, speed and skill that is needed to succeed at the position in today’s NHL.

Although a number of current Boston and Providence Bruins face free agency after the 2019-2020 season, Bergeron, Krejci and Kuraly, Frederic and Studnicka are not among them. Even if the team is unable to keep Coyle in the Spoked-B beyond this season, having three of those four key components of the offense still under contract is good news for the team.

Backes Appears Ready for Bruins Camp

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game Two

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

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

One of the most polarizing figures of the 2019 offseason, David Backes appeared on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena Wednesday morning for captains’ practice. A day earlier, it was reported by WEEI’s Matt Kalman that Backes’ agent said the veteran forward is “healthy and ready to go” for Bruins camp, which begins Sept. 12.

The controversy surrounding Backes’ continued tenure in Boston stems from the fact that he still has two years left on his contract, with $6 million owed this year, while his production has significantly declined. Last year, Backes put up just 20 points, including seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular season games. He added five more points in 15 games during the Bruins’ playoff run, but spent a good bit of the postseason watching from the press box as a healthy scratch.

The contract issues, coupled with the fact that the team has yet to re-sign restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, has left many fans calling for Backes to be dealt to another team willing to take on at least a portion of his contract to clear cap space. Rumors also abounded throughout the latter part of the summer that Backes would need surgery, possibly requiring the team to place him on long-term injured reserve and at least temporarily clearing his contract off the books. However, Backes’ camp put those rumors to rest.

If the reports from the 35-year-old Backes’ agent weren’t enough to satisfy skeptical fans, the alternate captain’s participation in Wednesday’s practice seemed to confirm that he is indeed ready for the season to begin. Backes was one of 31 players at that practice, a majority of whom were players expected to be in camp for the Bruins next week.

Now that it seems clear that Backes is staying in Boston at least to start the 2019-2020 season, it is fair to wonder just where he will fit in the Bruins lineup. A likely landing sport for Backes, who came to Boston in 2016 after several years with the St. Louis Blues, would be on the fourth line. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney even indicated in July that the fourth line could be a good spot for Backes given his past success there.

If Backes is to fill a fourth-line role, that means the Bruins coaching staff will have to make some difficult decisions about who to play and who to sit. Sean Kuraly is all but a lock to be the regular fourth-line center, although he showed last season that he can comfortably slide to left wing as well. That leaves a logjam of Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, Brett Ritchie and perhaps Par Lindholm fighting for regular playing time in the one remaining slot.

One valuable attribute Backes brings to the team is his leadership and experience. His teammates have been quick to point out his role in their development. Most recently, Kuraly talked about Backes’ significant impact on his young career.

Of course, Backes’ leadership abilities are not alone enough to justify him earning a regular spot in the lineup over younger players who may be able to contribute more scoring. However, with a roster still heavily split between younger still-developing players and veterans, it will help the team as a whole.

Like last season, Backes may be asked to play a fill-in role and to step up in situations where a little extra fight is needed, or he may indeed be rotated in regularly on the fourth line. No matter what role he plays, it is becoming increasingly more certain that he will be in the Spoked B this season.

Do The Bruins Have Enough Coming Down The Middle?

( Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/OHL Images )

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

The Boston Bruins, via Team President Cam Neely, identified a top-six winger as a position of need heading into the summer of 2019 following a largely successful 2018-19 campaign in which they finished in a tie for second overall in the NHL standings and advanced all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.  While the addition of a top-six winger clearly addresses a current need, should the Bruins be concerned with the long-term outlook at the center position?

The Boston Bruins have been blessed with a rock steady, 1-2 combination down the middle in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for the better part of the last decade.  Whilst there has been a revolving door of pivots on the third and fourth lines over that time, the Bruins have been led by one of the leagues’ top 1-2 center-ice combinations providing them with consistent scoring, defensive prowess, and abundant leadership.

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Patrice Bergeron is a future Hockey Hall-of-Famer, all but confirmed with the recent selection of Guy Carbonneau to the Hall.  Long regarded as one of, if not the best two-way player in the game, Bergeron is coming off a career season in points production having amassed 79 points in just 65 games played.  He scored an equal-career high 32-goals as he topped the 30-goal mark for the fifth time in his career.  He also garnered an eighth consecutive Selke Trophy nomination and finished third in voting behind winner Ryan O’Reilly and runner-up Mark Stone in a closely contested vote.  Bergeron has previously won the award in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017.

In David Krejci, the Bruins have a center who is also coming off a career season production-wise.  Krejci scored 73 points, equalling his previous career-high set all the way back in the 2008-09 season.   He hit the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career.  Krejci also had 16 points in 24 playoff games during Boston’s Stanley Cup run.  Twice in his career, Krejci had led the NHL in playoff scoring, back in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup as well as in 2013 when they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.  Krejci had a solid all-around season in 2018-19 finishing with a CF % (Corsi for) percentage of 55.98.  Bergeron, as a comparison, finished just slightly better at 56.77.

So we know that the Bruins have enjoyed a decade long luxury at the top of the center depth chart and for the most part have made things work with various options at the center depth positions.    There is a reality that the Bruins and their fans must start to consider here very quickly, however.  Both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are 33 years old.   In fact, Bergeron turns 34 this month.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Reality tells us that both of these career-long Bruins are well into the back nine of their respective careers.  The question for Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is, what is the succession plan as the end approaches for Bergeron and Krejci?  It’s not something that Bruins fans like to contemplate, but these players won’t be here forever, and that endpoint is now beginning to approach.

If we look at the players’ respective contract statuses, Bergeron is under contract for three more seasons at $6.875M per season.  Krejci has two seasons remaining at $7.25M per season.  There has been much speculation that this off-season is the right time to move Krejci in a salary dump to provide cap relief.  There may be some merit to that argument as his trade value is likely as high as it is going to get.  With the possibility of diminishing returns and production next season, not many 33-year-olds have career-best seasons after-all, the trade Krejci argument is understandable.  On the other hand, if the Bruins believe they are still in a championship-contending window, and most of their fans believe they are, then trading David Krejci likely weakens your team, depending on the return, and puts you further from contending at a time that your two best forwards in Bergeron and winger Brad Marchand continue to progress into their thirties.   If winning now is still the priority, unless you can bring in a top-six center to replace David Krejci, I have to believe you need to keep him.

Getting back to the question of what happens in two and three years when their contracts expire and their play has inevitably tailed off, whom do the Bruins see as their top-six centers of the future?  Have they already acquired those pieces through the draft or via trade?  Or is this an area of need that, although not pressing, will reach out and bite the Bruins if they don’t begin to plan for it now.

Let’s consider the centers already within the organization and see if any project as a Bergeron or Krejci replacement.  For the purpose of this exercise, this will consider prospects whose rights the Bruins currently control, be it under contract or not.

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Beyond Bergeron and Krejci, the current third-line center in Boston is Charlie Coyle.  Coyle is coming off a successful playoff after being acquired in a trade deadline move from the Minnesota Wild.  Coyle has one year remaining on his current contract at a reasonable cap hit of $3.2M.    Bringing good size and skating, the 6’3”, 220-pound Coyle slots well into the third-line center position and has been touted as a possible solution at second-line right wing heading into next season.  Such a move would put further pressure on the Bruins to find in-house options to fill out their center depth positions.    For the time being he gives the Bruins what they need centering the third line but his long-term future in Boston may well be tied to the type of dollars and term he seeks on a new contract as he heads towards unrestricted free agency next summer.

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The Bruins appear set for the foreseeable future at the fourth line center position with Sean Kuraly.  Kuraly is a key bottom-six forward for the Bruins, and his absence was noticeable for the first four games of Boston’s opening-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Kuraly’s return from injury in game five sparked the Bruins and helped stabilize the line-up as they went on to eliminate the Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes.  Kuraly could be an option to play in the third line center position if required, but his perfect role in the Bruins lineup would appear to be a fourth-line pivot.

The Bruins also appear to boast several depth centermen who appear capable of playing in the bottom six.  Some of their current wingers can also play center including Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, and Karson Kuhlman.  None of these players are likely options to replace Bergeron or Krejci however.  The same applies to David Backes, a player who could fill a role as a center or a winger up or down the Bruins line-up but at this stage in his career, he doesn’t factor into the conversation at hand.

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The next place to look is at the Bruins current prospects who are yet to make an impact at the NHL level but maybe closer to earning that opportunity over the next couple of seasons.  The Bruins managed to get 15 regular-season games into Trent Frederic this past season.  While Frederic is still seeking his first NHL point, he may be the next Bruins prospect in line at the center position and will very likely see more NHL action in the 2019-20 season.    The question is how high in an NHL line-up does Frederic project?  While that remains to be seen, the common opinion seems to be that he projects to be a solid third-line center at the NHL level.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t help solve the issue of replacing Bergeron or Krejci in the top six.

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Jack Studnicka is coming off a successful junior career as a member of the Oshawa Generals and Niagara Ice Dogs.   This past season he scored 83 points in 60 regular-season games and represented Canada in the World Junior Championships where he tallied four points in five games played.  Studnicka has many upsides but again, his ceiling is difficult to project.   The 2017, second-round selection will benefit from the opportunity to develop at the AHL level in Providence but has the potential to grow and develop into an option to challenge for a top-six role one day at the NHL level.

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Boston’s most recent first-round draft pick, John Beecher, selected 30th overall from the US National Development Team in last month’s NHL Amateur Draft, may signal a recognition by the Bruins management that there is a need to address their lack of long-term options at the center position.  Beecher has tremendous size at 6-3” and 209 pounds and impressed onlookers with his speed and skating ability at the Bruins recent development camp.  Bruins fans shouldn’t get too giddy and hopeful of seeing Beecher in the black and gold anytime soon, however, as he has committed to play at Michigan this upcoming season and he should benefit greatly from playing in the NCAA ranks.    Beecher does, however, represent perhaps the glimmer of hope that the Bruins may have a bona fide center prospect who can play a meaningful and successful top-six role one day in the future.   Bruins fans have to temper the expectations on the 18-year-old Beecher however and realize he is likely at least a couple of years away and possibly more from a role in the NHL with the Bruins.

While there is hope that the Bruins may already have prospects that may one day fill the top six roles that have been held down for so long by Bergeron and Krejci, the reality may be that the Bruins may need to look outside their own organization to acquire at least one future top-six center, whether that be via free agency or trade.  It’s no secret that the Bruins’ depth strength is on the back end.  The Bruins may be best served by utilizing their depth on the back end to address their need at center.  This does not have to happen immediately.  The smart play, however, would be to have replacements ready to assume those roles once their existing contracts expire.  The reality is that Bergeron and Krejci can’t play forever, however, and the Bruins need to improve their organizational depth at the center position in order to be prepared for that inevitable day when they are no longer contributing at the level we have been accustomed to for such a long time.