Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask Cracks NHL Network’s Top 10 Goalies List

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( Photo Credit: USA Today )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

Every summer, the NHL Network narrows down the best players from throughout the league at each position. As part of the series, producers, hosts, and analysts prepared a top-10 list of the current best goaltenders in the National Hockey League and revealed it Sunday night. Tuukka Rask made the top ten list again and made a significant move up from his position last year. 

Last year, Rask was named to the top-10 goalies list at number-eight while this year the Bruins netminder cracked the list and came in at number five. Rask was one ahead of Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at number six and one behind rival Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price who came in at number four. Jordan Binnington who out-dueled Tuukka Rask in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals made the list at number eight. Rask posted a 27-13-5 record in 46 games played in the 2018-2019 campaign with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage along with four shutouts.

The Bruins had a strong goaltending tandem this season and Bruce Cassidy wanted a rather equal workload for both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak as he felt they could use a more rested Rask for the playoffs and boy did that pay off for the Black ’N Gold. Tuukka Rask had one of the best goaltending performances in the playoffs this season and was one of the biggest reasons why the Bruins were able to make it to game seven of the Cup Finals. In the 2019 playoffs, Rask recorded a 15-9 record with a 2.02 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. 

Throughout the whole playoffs, Rask was strong for the Bruins but there were a few performances in particular in which Rask absolutely stole the show. In the opening-round series against Toronto, the teams met again at TD Garden for a deciding game seven. Rask turned away 32 Toronto shots en route to a 5-1 victory and another second-round appearance for the B’s. In round two against the Columbus Blue Jackets, two of the best goaltenders went head to head as Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky battled all series long. In game six in Columbus, Rask had one of his best games of the playoffs as he shut the door on the Blue Jackets’ season with a 39-save shut out to blank the Blue Jackets and propel the Bruins into the Conference Finals. In another series-clinching game in the Conference Finals against the Hurricanes, Rask again stood tall with a 24-save shut out for the B’s and sent them to the Stanley Cup Final.

Rask also became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history after a Super Bowl Sunday shutout over the Washington Capitals. This was Rask’s 253rd win with the Bruins and passed Tiny Thompson who played for the Bruins from 1928-1939 and racked up a 252-153-63 record.

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Other notables who made the list are division rivals down in Florida with Sergei Bobrovsky of the Panthers coming in at number two and Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay who came in as the best goaltender right now.

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Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Having MVP Caliber Postseason

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes

( Photo Credit: CBSSports.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins are going on an absolute tear this postseason and are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. On Thursday night, the Bruins advanced to their third Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2011, and Tuukka Rask is a big reason why.

A lot has been said about Tuukka Rask and his inconsistency in the playoffs throughout his career in Boston (and I’ll admit, I was one of those people). It seemed as though he could not break through and become the performer that the Bruins needed to get past strong teams like the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. That perception has all been changed this season, and Tuukka Rask has emerged as the clear Conn Smyth trophy winner as the MVP of the playoffs.

The Bruins this offseason went out and signed Jaroslav Halak, a veteran starting goaltender to split the time in the regular season with Tuukka Rask. The two goaltenders split the regular season virtually equally with Halak getting 37 starts and Rask with 45 in order to keep Rask fresh for a deep playoff run – and boy has that worked out well. A lot of folks also think the signing was to have a solid Plan B if Tuukka struggled at all during the postseason.

In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson went head to head which was a great goaltending battle. Despite the Leafs taking the Bruins to a game seven again, Tuukka Rask stood on his head in the final game of the first round and defeated the Maple Leafs with 32 saves on 33 shots for a .970 save percentage and a 5-1 victory.

In the Eastern Conference second-round series, Tuukka and the Black ‘N Gold saw the Columbus Blue Jackets and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Another monster goaltending matchup and Tuukka stole the show. After game five, Blue Jackets coach stated that his team “dented” Tuukka Rask with three late third period goals. However, when game six came around, Tuukka Rask was clearly unfazed by the coaches comments and posted a 39 save shutout that propelled the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Finals.

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In Tuukka Rask’s career Conference Finals, he has not lost a single game in his career. In 2013, Rask and the Bruins swept Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Finals to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. On Thursday night, Rask would continue his Eastern Conference Finals dominance and remains a perfect 8-0 and becomes just the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win at least eight straight games in the conference finals.

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In Game three against Carolina in Raleigh, the Hurricanes came out buzzing, and Tuukka stood on his head once again for the Bruins as the Hurricanes peppered Rask with 20 shots in the first period but did not beat number 40 in Black ‘N Gold. Rask gave the Bruins a chance to take a three nothing series lead, and they might be playing a game five on Saturday night if it wasn’t for Tuukka’s performance in game three.

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In series-clinching games in these playoffs, Rask stopped 90 of 91 shots with a 5-1 win against Toronto in game seven, a 3-0 shutout against Columbus in game six, and a 4-0 shutout in game four against Carolina.

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Rask’s play has been nothing short of amazing this postseason and who better to compare this year’s Tuukka Rask to 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff MVP Tim Thomas.

Through the 2011 Conference Finals, Tim Thomas posted a 12-6 record with a 2.29 goals against average and a .929 save percentage along with two shutouts. Through the 2019 Conference Finals, Tuukka Rask has posted a 12-5 record with a 1.84 (!!) goals against average and a .942 save percentage with two shutouts. Rask also passed Gerry Cheevers and Tim Thomas with three series-clinching shutouts that are the most in Boston Bruins history.

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Tuukka Rask has by far been nothing short of incredible this season and has shown up all the Rask haters and doubters in which I will admit, I had doubted him before. But, I am so proud to admit that I was wrong and happy for Tuukka and the Bruins. He is the clear-cut favorite for the Conn Smyth trophy thus far, and it really isn’t even close. Whoever the Bruins face in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, it will be a tough matchup for the Bruins, but if Tuukka Rask plays like he has been this postseason, the Bruins have a very good chance of hoisting Lord Stanley.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: EQSF Game 5: Columbus at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JAMIE SABAU/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES)

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

The Boston Bruins are once again in the middle of a tight, best-of-seven series for the second time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tonight, the Bruins face the Jackets in Game Five in what is now a best-of-three series. A win on home ice for the Bruins gives them a chance to eliminate Columbus in Game Six.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (6-5)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (6-2)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 4-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Noel Acciari was not present at the morning practice or the pre-game warmup for the Boston Bruins. Replacing Acciari is forward Chris Wagner, who will make his way back into the lineup for the first time since Game Two in Boston.

First Period:

Due to the Kentucky Derby, the game was delayed slightly. Early on, both teams started off cautiously but the Bruins third-line had some quick shots on Bobrovsky with Danton Heinen getting a couple of them. David Backes also had some hard hits in the first few minutes of this pivotal Game 5.

The first-line of Boston, including Torey Krug blasted some shots and Bobrovsky allowed some large rebounds in the process. Bruins should look to take advantage of that idea and continue to fire shots on the net. One of Krug’s shots blasted Werenski in the ankle, causing him to fall on top of his own goaltender at the same time.

With 10:57 remaining in the opening period, the first penalty of the game gets called against the Blue Jackets. After some borderline hits from both teams, Marcus Johansson brings the puck up the ice 1-on-4, taking a slash on the hand by Cam Atkinson who heads to the box for two minutes. Boston’s power-play looked much better than the six they had on Thursday, allowing zero chances against, something that happened often in Game Six. Nonetheless, the penalty is killed off and back to 5-on-5.

Not long after the Columbus penalty-kill, Boone Jenner comes into the zone and as he goes to take a shot, Charlie McAvoy takes a slashing penalty as well. Boston gets their first chance on the penalty-kill with 8:25 left to go in period number one. Boston’s PK looked great, even taking the puck into Columbus’ zone to skate around a bit and kill off the clock. Only one true chance for Columbus on the penalty, back to even-strength.

Immediately after, the Blue Jackets are caught with six players on the ice. John Tortorella argued the call, but there was a time where six players were clearly on the ice for the Blue Jackets, tough break for them. Boston right back to the power-play with a chance to get on the board first.

The Bruins had some hard chances that either missed or were blocked, but the opportunities were indeed there. Definite improvement for Boston’s power-play going back to last game but we are back to 5-on-5.

In the concluding minutes of the period, the Blue Jackets started to get some chances to shoot off the rush into the zone, but the Bruins do a great job shutting down the extra passes, blocking shots, and when it does get to the net, Rask has been solid and calm to make the save. A solid defensive effort so far for the B’s as the first period ends.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 9 CBJ: 8

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Only 1:39 into the second period, the Bruins strike first. David Backes picks off a Columbus turnover and heads down the ice. Backes drops the puck off for Jake DeBrusk who tosses it across the zone to Krejci. Krejci originally has issues handling the rolling puck and barely touches it, narrowly beating Bobrovsky under the pad. Boston takes a 1-0 lead early on in the middle frame.

Boston used that goal as some serious momentum to start controlling this hockey game. They are forcing turnovers in the neutral zone and are doing a great job limiting chances when Columbus finds themselves in the offensive zone. The Blue Jackets are just trying to dump the puck behind Rask, but the B’s are winning the board battles, proceeding to get the puck back up the ice.

Boston’s third-line gets in on the action as well when Marcus Johansson’s one-timer from the faceoff circle gets robbed by the left leg of Sergei Bobrovsky. Charlie Coyle was the one to get the pass through the middle of the zone across to Johansson, proving that the combination of those two are getting some serious chances to score. The athleticism and flexibility of Bobrovsky continue to be on display in this series.

After some more incredible chances by the Bruins by seemingly everyone, the Blue Jackets get their best chance of the hockey game when Brandon Carlo turns the puck over in his own zone, leading to Cam Atkinson on a partial breakaway. Tuukka Rask, however, follows Atkinson all the way and makes a large save. On the play, Torey Krug is called for a holding penalty but Rask looks great nonetheless.

Right off on the power-play, the Blue Jackets’ captain Nick Foligno somehow gets around Zdeno Chara in on Rask, but again, Rask stays strong with the pad save. He is looking great once again for the Bruins. On a clear attempt, Joakim Nordstrom falls twice and then holds his shoulder in some discomfort. Nordstrom heads down the tunnel as a result but manages to return not long after. Boston kills off the penalty though, 1-0 lead still in tact.

The Bruins did not record as many shots in the second half of the second period but they also didn’t give up many either. Great net-front battles right down to the final seconds of this frame helped the Bruins end the period with a one-goal advantage heading into the final twenty minutes. Another goaltender’s dual.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 21 CBJ: 23

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Krejci (3) Assists: DeBrusk (2), Backes (3)

Third Period:

Again, early in the period, the Bruins get some great zone time on Columbus. The Blue Jackets did get some offensive control of their own, but both shots were blocked. David Pastrnak and his linemates had some shots on goal and some that missed as well, however, the B’s start the third off well.

Less than three minutes in, David Krejci uses the stick in the neutral zone to hand it off to DeBrusk. DeBrusk keeps his legs moving and gets a contested backhand on Bobrovsky, following it by colliding into Bobrovsky’s pads, causing the net to come off. Great net drive by DeBrusk and that would be great to have more often in this game and the remainder of the postseason.

Columbus gets a chance of their own on a 2-on-1 scenario with Atkinson being the pass-receiver. Just as he is about to get the pass, Joakim Nordstrom hustles back and makes a great stick check to prevent what may have been a game-tying chance. Right back the other way, on an offensive zone faceoff win, Connor Clifton pushes up the zone, feeding Marchand who gets robbed again. However, the rebound goes right to his stick and he buries that one past Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky shows evident frustration after the goal against, knowing now the Bruins are up 2-0.

Just over halfway into the period, the Blue Jackets rip a shot tight on Rask who hugs the post immediately. The play seems normal, but the refs decide to look at the play. The puck looked to have crossed the line but the puck was not seen on any of the replay angles provided. Regardless, the officials, after a lengthy review process, rule it a good goal and it becomes a 2-1 hockey game.

Less than one minute after the goal, the Boston Bruins escape on a 3-on-1 play with David Pastrnak as the puck-holder. The defenceman allows Bobrovsky to take Pastrnak as he takes the passing options but Pastrnak just rips a Pastrnak-esque wrist shot past a standing Bobrovsky and it is right back to a two-goal Boston lead. Pastrnak with the patent hand-to-ear celebration afterwards and he is finally feeling himself these playoffs.

But, again, the goals somehow come everywhere. 51 seconds after the Pastrnak insurance goal, Matt Duchene makes a quick pivot that gets Chara out of position, then feeds it across to Ryan Dzingel who shoots it top shelf past Rask with just around seven minutes to go in the third period. Three goals in 1:23.

And it doesn’t stop there. Artemi Panarin gets the puck, almost fakes the shot and passes it to Dean Kukan in the high slot. Kukan’s bomb beats Rask high and the Blue Jackets tie this hectic hockey game with six minutes left to go in this game.

Boston gets a close chance when Bobrovsky is on his stomach when Krejci drives wide and throws it in front, but right back the other way Atkinson gets a contested breakaway that goes right into the chest of Tuukka Rask. Neither team is backing down.

With 1:28 remaining in the third period, Brandon Carlo shuts down Artemi Panarin, eventually forcing an odd-man rush going the other way. Brad Marchand makes a clean pass directly to the tape of David Pastrnak who just barely squeaks the puck past Bobrovsky and the Bruins once again take a one-goal lead. Pastrnak’s second of the game.

With the goalie pulled, Matt Duchene tips a puck that would have beat Tuukka Rask but bangs right off of the post. Then, with 14.6 seconds to go, Cam Atkinson gets yet another chance in tight but thanks to the sprawling Rask and pretty much every Bruin on the ice, the puck does not cross the red line.

After Columbus’ timeout, the Bruins cannot clear the puck and Panarin’s one-timer gets blocked hard by Charlie McAvoy but the Bruins hold on and win. Game-saving block by McAvoy.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 36 CBJ: 36

Final Score: 4-3 Bruins – 3-2 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 2 Goals, 7 Shots, +3 Rating, 17:48 TOI

2nd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 20:56 TOI

3rd Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 29 Saves, .917 SV%

The series now heads back to Columbus, Ohio and the Boston Bruins have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game Six. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST on Monday, May 6th.

Charlie McAvoy’s Game Three Is Exactly What He And The Bruins Want Moving Forward

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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

The Boston Bruins now trail their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series with the Columbus Blue Jackets two-games-to-one and there are many different theories and ideas as to why the Bruins have lost two of the three games to the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.

Some suggest that the lack of production from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is the reason while others may think that secret or unspecified injuries are the reason. After the loss in Game Three on the road, one player was one-hundred-percent not blamed (and he really shouldn’t be if he is), defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Before Game Three, McAvoy has had a pretty solid 2019 postseason for the Bruins and he is truly showing that he can handle the big minutes that top-two defencemen in the NHL need to be able to handle. In the opening best-of-seven series against the Maple Leafs, the 21-year-old averaged 24:04 of ice-time, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points in the seven games.

Between Games One and Two in the Second Round against Columbus, McAvoy averaged 27:33 minutes, highlighted by a 30:39-minute game in the double-overtime loss back in the second game. McAvoy trailed only Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo for the most minutes in that game, but his play was something to note heading into Tuesday’s contest in Columbus.

In Game Three, Charlie played in a team-high 24 minutes, led the team in recorded hits with five, and had the third-most shots on goal by defencemen on the Bruins roster. In addition to all of that, McAvoy’s skating and puck handling was on full display, often joining the rush as almost a fourth forward, setting up high-quality scoring chances because of it. During the third period of play with Boston down 2-1 on the scoreboard, McAvoy made a slick, no-look pass to Noel Acciari that beat Sergei Bobrovsky, but rang off of the post and went into the corner.

If Acciari buries that beautiful play, the game is tied and the two teams would have most likely made their way to a third-consecutive overtime session. It was a hard break for a Boston team that let the Blue Jackets come out on home ice with a two-goal lead, but made an effort near the end of the second period and the entirety of the third to even up the score and force that overtime period.

Regardless of the outcome of the game and regardless of how the series currently stands, Charlie McAvoy did everything in his power other than scoring goals to give Boston the lead in the series. Former Bruin Riley Nash has been on the wrong end of some heavy hits by the B’s and McAvoy was yet another contributor to that. In the dying seconds of the second period, not long after DeBrusk’s tally, the Long Beach, New York native sent Nash to ice in exploding fashion with a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder collision.

Charlie McAvoy was a crucial part to the small successes that Boston found in the Game Three defeat. As previously stated, McAvoy handled the puck with ease around oncoming defenders and managed to help the Bruins secure some offensive zone time – a feat that seemed difficult to accomplish at numerous times in not only this game, but the first two meetings as well. His zone entries were clean, feet were always moving, and his passes were clean – turning the puck over on only one occasion compared to the four turnovers he committed in Game Two.

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy praised the efforts of McAvoy in the post-game press conference as well, as this quote taken from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) suggests.

“Excellent. He was all over the ice. Dominant. He wanted to be a difference-maker without being reckless. Really, really good. Charlie was a big reason why we were in the game.”

A topic that was often included in these conversations about McAvoy’s stellar performance on Tuesday night was that McAvoy usually does not play like this consistently and if he does, could be a strong asset to Boston as this series progresses further and further. Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) included that perfectly in a Tweet below.

Similar to Acciari’s post shot, McAvoy ripped one off of the red iron as well in the game. His speed and skill with the puck allowed a clean entry into Columbus’ zone, but his solid wrist shot hit the post behind a standing Bobrovsky. Just another digressive attack that demonstrated his confidence that he possessed throughout the sixty-minute hockey game.

Even in a losing effort, the end result for Charlie McAvoy could be a winning one in the long run. On July 1st, the young defender’s contract officially expires and he will become an unrestricted free-agent. As of the end of the 2018-19 regular season, McAvoy has played in 117 career NHL regular season games, amassing 14-46-60 numbers within that time span as well as 13 points in 28 NHL playoff games.

Following a recent poll on my Twitter page, 51% of voters predict McAvoy’s contract to be anywhere from $4.1 to $6 million annually, with many people suggesting that the length of the deal plays a role in that annual salary as well. The next highest percentage, at 35%, suggested a $6.1 to $7 million price gap.

On CapFriendly’s “comparable” tool on their website, I took a look at players similar to McAvoy when he will sign his new contract. Such parameters included a 21-year-old, right-handed defenceman with 60 points in 117 games making $5.5 million on a six-year contract. Of course, those numbers are going off of the Twitter results and do not result in a definite, expected number.

The best match for McAvoy according to CapFriendly is Arizona Coyotes d-man, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson signed his deal back in March of 2013 when he was 21 years of age. At the time of signing, OEK had only 56 points in 157 games played. The website’s tool has both players matching at 97.1%.

Now, my first issue with this was the idea of the points scored. With the statistics provided above, Charlie McAvoy possesses a 0.51 points-per-game average while Ekman-Larsson had only averaged 0.35 points-per-game when he signed for $5.5 million for six seasons. In response, I re-adjusted my sliders for the attributes that I wanted to be considered the most, including career games played, points, and age. Below were my top 5 results. You can also CLICK HERE for the official CapFriendly table.

  • 98.1% – ARI D Jakub Chychrun – 21yrs – 118GP – 34pts – $4.6 million/6yrs in 2018
  • 97.1% – MIN D Jonas Brodin – 21yrs – 127GP – 31pts – $4.1 million/6yrs in 2014
  • 96.7% – NJD D Adam Larsson – 21yrs – 128GP – 27pts – $900,000/1yr in 2014
  • 96.6% – MIN D Brent Burns – 21yrs – 108GP – 22pts – $825,000/2yrs in 2006
  • 96.2% – ARI D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 21yrs – 157GP – 56pts – $5.5 million/6yrs in 2013

Taking a look at the annual salaries, clearly the contracts of both Adam Larsson and Brent Burns are highly unlikely for McAvoy at this point in his career, but they do have a strong resemblance to McAvoy’s current situation. Jakub Chychrun, to me, makes the most sense. However, due to McAvoy having a significantly higher career point total as well as having a larger role on the Bruins team than Chychrun did, I personally see his contract around Ekman-Larsson’s.

For Charlie McAvoy, if his Game Three performance can be continued out for the remainder of the postseason, he can truly have some bargaining power on General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins management. For the Boston Bruins, even if they have to pay more than possibly expected at the start of the season, it is a win for them because they will have another young, solid defenceman of the future to build around once the likes of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug move on.

Tonight, the Bruins are back on the ice against the Blue Jackets in Game Four. Puck drop is currently scheduled for 7:30pm EST. Can Charlie McAvoy play as dominantly as he did only two nights ago? Will the Bruins tie the series at two, heading back to Boston? They’re all just questions, but soon, they will become answers.

What The Bruins Need To Do To Get Back In This Series

Columbus Blue Jackets' Matt Duchene, top right, scores a goal against Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, of Finland, during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Nationwide Arena.

(JAY LAPRETE / AP)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins have done a lot of what needs to be done to win a series. They’ve gotten really good goaltending from Tuukka Rask, they’ve gotten a lot of really important depth goals out of their bottom six, and overall, they’ve played pretty damn good defense. But clearly, they aren’t playing perfect hockey as they’re down 2-1 in the series. Here are a few important things the Bruins will need to do to come back in this series against Columbus.

Figure Out Bobrovsky

Captain obvious here but the Bruins need to find a way to get a couple past the Blue Jackets’ goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky has been incredible this entire playoff run, but his playoff struggles of the past can’t be forgotten. Even with his outstanding numbers this season (.937 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA) he has a measly .902 save % and a 3.08 GAA. If the Bruins can put up four or five on him in a game, then the nerves may start to kick in, and Bobrovsky could start to falter.

 

Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, right, of the Czech Republic, controls the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. The Bruins won 6-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Fix the Powerplay

To say it has been bad would be an understatement. The Bruins are just 1/10 on the PP this series, and it seems that every time they get on the man advantage, it just kills their momentum. The first powerplay unit HAS to change. I think Marcus Johansson is incredible at gaining the zone which is very important to a powerplay, but he just isn’t the right guy to be in front of the net. I would rather see him on the second unit either in the bumper position (where Bergeron plays) or on the right side half-wall (where Marchand plays).

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It seems Jake Debrusk will move back up to the number one unit and take Johansson’s place, but I think a guy like David Backes, who looks to be entering the lineup next game, would be the best fit there. While age has been getting the better of him as of late, he still has a nose for the net and sees the puck really well. He’s got very good hand-eye coordination and could really be a nuisance for Bobrovsky and the Columbus defense to handle in front of the net.

 

Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

Have the First Line do… Something

Yikes. The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have one point this entire series, and that one point was a goal off of Pastrnak’s skate. The worst of the bunch has been the goal scorer Pastrnak. Maybe he’s playing through an injury, but everything, his skating, his shooting, his decision making, all of it has been off. Coach Cassidy tried to jump-start the struggling Pastrnak by putting him on the third line with the best two Bruins this series, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, and it just ruined what the two had going before Game Three. Towards the tail-end of Game Three, the Czechman was reunited with his former linemates and had a few solid shifts to end off the game. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come.

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Brad Marchand should try to stick to scoring goals and not his old devilish ways, or we might not see Marchy too much more this series. Patrice Bergeron hasn’t been bad. He’s had a lot of quality scoring chances and has done a good job neutralizing the Blue Jacket’s top line, but just like the rest of his linemates, he just looks off. Bruce Cassidy will stick with his guns and keep the “perfection” line together going into Game Four, hopefully, this major slump can only last so long

Stop Giving the Puck Away

Plain and simple, way too many costly turnovers.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: EQSF Game 1: Columbus at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

After eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, the Boston Bruins are right back in action after a short, one-day break to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round Two of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blue Jackets are coming off of a four-game sweep of the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round matchup.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (4-3)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 5-1 in Game 7

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Defenceman John Moore is out of the lineup for tonight’s Game One with an upper-body injury and is considered to be day-to-day with the injury. Connor Clifton will enter the lineup in replace of Moore. In addition, forward Chris Wagner will come back into the forward core and Karson Kuhlman will be the scratch. Tuukka Rask is the starting goaltender for Boston.

First Period:

Less than a minute into round two and the Boston Bruins are bringing back the physical style of hockey that we saw in Game Two against the Maple Leafs. The fourth line of Boston, as well as Torey Krug, had some huge hits on the Blue Jackets early on and that could be a big storyline throughout this series.

About four minutes into the game, the intensity level rises just a bit. Blue Jackets d-man Scott Harrington sticks the knee out on Sean Kuraly as Kuraly enters the zone, getting called on a two-minute tripping minor in the process. Right after, Nordstrom gets into a scuffle with some opposing players, showing what kind of series this will be.

The Bruins thrive on the early power-play with some great chances, headlined by a highway robbery by Sergei Bobrovsky – a split save on a bouncing puck right in front of the net and it stays scoreless. With 43 seconds left, Boston gets caught with six players on the ice and the power-play becomes  4-on-4 play for too-many-men. Bobrovsky makes another huge stop on Charlie McAvoy as well. Fortunately, Columbus fails to get a shot on the man-advantage and we go back to 5-on-5.

The B’s forecheck has been great in the early portions of this game, but Charlie Coyle goes a bit too far, getting called on a hooking minor about halfway through the first period. Columbus has a chance on a full power-play session for the first time this series. Boston’s PK did a great job shutting down offensive chances in the neutral zone and the Blue Jackets cannot get anything going.

Continuing a great penalty-kill, Noel Acciari stands up strong on the blueline, picking up the puck off of a McAvoy poke check, turning around and heading on a 2-on-1 with Nordstrom. Instead of passing, Acciari rips one shorthanded underneath Bobrovsky’s blocker to put the Bruins up 1-0.

Brad Marchand makes a slick move to get around the defender, takes a shot that gets stopped by Bobrovsky, but the Bruins stay hard on the puck. At the other end, Cam Atkinson steals the puck off of Zdeno Chara in the Bruins defensive zone, then passes it to Ryan Dzingel in the slot. Tuukka Rask makes only his second save of the game with three minutes to go in the period on a solid chance.

Columbus closed out the first period with the best zone control they had all game, quite honestly the only time they had such pressure in the offensive zone, but the Bruins deal with the chances and not many shots end up reaching Rask. With that, Boston ends the period with a 1-0 lead. Columbus ties a franchise record for fewest shots on goal in the first period of a playoff game with four.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 14 CBJ: 4

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Acciari (1) SH Assists: McAvoy (3)

Second Period:

Just shy of three minutes into a slower-paced second period, former-Bruin Riley Nash trips up Matt Grzelcyk and Boston once again goes to the power-play. Early on, Columbus shows great improvement on the penalty-kill, but a small cycle play causes a Pastrnak one-timer that shatters his stick. The puck somehow gets to Marchand who has an open net but rings it off the crossbar and it goes up out of play. Blue Jackets kill off the penalty on Nash.

Not long after Nash leaves the box, David Krejci gets his stick on the skates of Nick Foligno at the end of his shift and the officials wave him to the penalty box. Columbus heads to the power-play for the third time already. Tuukka Rask has to make a couple solid saves – which he does so and Boston successfully makes their third kill of the night.

Midway through the game, the Blue Jackets have clearly found their game that was absent in the first frame. Already more shots in the second period than the opening period for Columbus and they have begun to start the cycle on a couple occasions. Boston forced to ice it a few times in the process.

With 5:30 remaining in the frame, Patrice Bergeron is called on a hooking call when he makes a play to shut down a David Savard chance on Rask. Yet again, Bruins off to the 5-on-4 penalty-kill tonight. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has a wide open net on a rebound but the bouncing puck goes over the blade of his stick and no shot comes off. Marchand gets a contested breakaway shorthanded but with the good defence by Bjorkstrand, he is unable to get the shot off. The chance is enough to kill off the penalty, though.

Brad Marchand, who has been all over the puck since hitting the crossbar, gets the puck on a short 2-on-1 with Pastrnak. Pastrnak gets interfered with by Zach Werenski and with around one minute left in the second, Boston goes to the power-play. Off of a terrific diving play to keep the puck in by Torey Krug, Bruins get numerous high-quality chances, but the period ends before a goal goes in. B’s will have 48 seconds on the power-play to start the third.

Columbus out-shot the Bruins 10-to-6 in that middle frame and Boston has allowed them to get their legs in this game. Boston needs a goal early in the final regulation period to give them the momentum back in this Game One contest. It should be an entertaining upcoming twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 CBJ: 14

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period:

Unable to strike on the short power-play to begin the period, the Bruins get a full one 1:20 into the third on a holding minor against Boone Jenner. Just seconds beforehand, Jenner took a shot on the rush that hit Rask’s glove and then the post but stayed out. Marchand again gets the best chance on the power-play, a deflection on a slap pass from Pastrnak that just goes wide. Blue Jackets block a few hard shots including one off of Zach Werenski’s hand. He has been the top minute-eating defenceman for Columbus and losing him would hurt. Boston, though, can’t score again on the man-advantage.

In a game that felt like a regular season game at times results in a Seth Jones point shot that gets deflected by former-Bruin Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky, tying the game at one. Only thirteen seconds after that, Artemi Panarin takes a hard slapshot towards Rask and it hits Pierre-Luc Dubois’ leg, beating Rask. All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets have a 2-1 lead in the third.

Looking for a response, Joakim Nordstrom takes a spinning shot and somehow Sean Kuraly gets his stick on a loose puck but his attempt gets stopped by with a desperation save by Bobrovsky. Boston’s fourth line continues to have the best chances for the team and that usually does not win you consistent playoff games.

A slower period than expected, Marcus Johansson comes down the right-wing side with head up all the way and he makes a slick backhand pass to Charlie Coyle and his bomb of a one-timer goes in and out so fast that it almost seemed like a post shot, but Coyle and the official behind the net saw that it went in short-side and the Boston Bruins have tied this game with just under five minutes in regulation.

In the final minutes, Charlie McAvoy gets absolutely levelled behind Tuukka Rask by Josh Anderson. McAvoy returned the favour to Boone Jenner later in the shift as Jenner tried to cross the Bruins blueline. High intensity in the concluding moments with some hard pushes by Boston but we head to overtime for the first time in the playoffs for the Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 CBJ: 21

Score: 2-2 – Goals: Dubinsky (1) Assists: Nash (1), Jones (3); Dubois (2) Assists: Panarin (4), Jones (4); Coyle (4) Assists: Johansson (1), Krug (4)

Overtime:

In the first few minutes of the overtime session, it is apparent that David Krejci is not on the bench nor the ice for the Bruins. Talks are that Krejci took a hard hit at the end of the third period, but no clear play of injury is present.

Leave it up to the third line. Marcus Johansson tosses the puck high up for Danton Heinen who just barely gets into the zone onside. Zach Werenski pauses to protest for a possible offside, which allows Charlie Coyle to get around him. In the meantime, Johansson feeds a perfect pass to Coyle for a deflection goal. Bruins win Game One, 3-2 in overtime.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 37 CBJ: 22

Final Score: 3-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Charlie Coyle – 2 Goals, OT Winner, 2 Shots, 3 Hits,

2nd Star: CBJ G Sergei Bobrovsky – 34 Saves, .919 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Marcus Johansson – 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 16:20 TOI

Game Two is currently scheduled for 8:00pm EST on Saturday, April 27th in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bruins Should Not Overlook Series Against Columbus

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( Photo Credit: NECN.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins are set to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday night at TD Garden. After a thrilling game seven win over the Toronto Maple Leafs just two days ago, the Bruins hope the momentum will carry over into the second round against the Blue Jackets who stunned the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning with a first-round sweep.

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The road to the Stanley Cup Finals will go through Boston as the Black ‘N Gold are the highest remaining seed in the postseason. For the first time in NHL postseason history, all four division winners were eliminated in the first round with all four Wild Card teams advancing.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs in a stunning turn of events and similarly the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy and record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning out of the first round. On Wednesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in double-overtime to move on.

In the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks defeated the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of game seven to move onto face Colorado who also completed a stunning upset when they beat the Western Conference top seed Calgary Flames in only five games. In recent seasons, the Nashville Predators have been a large favorite to come out of the west. However, this season was different when the Dallas Stars defeated the Preds in six games to propel Dallas into the West Semifinals.

In January, the St. Louis Blues were dead last in the NHL but stormed back to make a playoff appearance in the Central Division. They handled the Winnipeg Jets in six games and have moved onto the second round to face the Dallas Stars.

The Stanley Cup Playoff first round has been incredibly fun to watch with the upsets and storylines in each series. With these upsets, the Bruins remain as the highest seed in the playoffs and means that they will have home-ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs. This bodes well for the Bruins as the B’s went 29-9-3 at the TD Garden in the regular season and won a pivotal game seven at home on Tuesday night 5-1 over the Maple Leafs.

With the results around the league, it can be easy for the Bruins to look ahead to the Conference Finals and even the Stanley Cup finals because of some of the favorites being out of the race in the first round. However, it is essential that the Bruins do not look past Columbus in the second round series.

The Blue Jackets finished as the second Wild Card team in the East and nearly missed the postseason after a fairly strong but inconsistent season. After making the dance, they faced the heavy cup favorite in Tampa who tied the single-season record for most wins with 62. A lot of people picked Tampa to sweep Columbus but instead, John Tortorella and his team shocked the sports world and swept them instead. With strong goaltending, team defense, and production from their superstar forwards including deadline acquisition Matt Duchene who leads the team with three goals and four assists for seven points, the Blue Jackets are a strong team that should not be overlooked just because of their seeding. Sergei Bobrovsky has played like his Vezina self posting a .932% save percentage this playoff and shut down the superstars for the Lightning in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

It was said by fans and some media members in Boston that after the slow start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, that the Bruins might have overlooked the Leafs and were already thinking about facing Tampa Bay in the second round. Both the team and the fans should not take Tortorella’s squad lightly. The Blue Jackets have proven to the hockey world that they belong in the playoffs and are a strong team and the Bruins should not take them lightly. The Bruins powerplay helped them out in their series against Toronto and went seven for sixteen on powerplay chances in the series which was second in powerplay percentage during the first round only behind the Blue Jackets who buried five PP goals on 10 opportunities against Tampa Bay. Alternatively, the Blue Jackets were tied for the top penalty kill percentage in the regular season and killed off 83% of the Lightning PP opportunities in round number one. 

It is exciting to look at the remaining Eastern Conference teams and to realize that the road to the Finals goes through TD Garden, but the Bruins and the Bruins faithful must focus on the Blue Jackets should not think that this will be an easy series — because it wont. However, as it is encouraging and exciting to see an “easier” road to the finals but as we all know there is no easy route to the championship especially in hockey with every team deserving to be here.

This is another tough matchup for the Bruins who will be battling a very good team in a best of seven series and will be another fantastic coaching matchup between Bruce Cassidy and John Tortorella. The Bruins must come out strong against Columbus who haven’t played in nine days and set the tone for the series and continue their strong play that emerged in game six and seven against Toronto.