Bruins Announce Return To Play Roster; Kampfer Opts Out

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday evening, the Boston Bruins announced their training camp roster as the National Hockey League prepares to conclude the 2019-20 season. 29 skaters and four goaltenders comprise the 33-man squad.

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Karson Kuhlman, Par Lindholm, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Nick Ritchie, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Chris Wagner

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril

Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Max Lagace, Tuukka Rask, Dan Vladar

One notable absence is that of right-shot defenseman Steven Kampfer, who has opted out of the NHL’s Return to Play. In a post on Twitter, Kampfer, 31, explained that, while it was a difficult decision, he must put his family first as his wife and son have a congenital heart defect that can pose complications if infected with COVID-19.

Kampfer joins Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mike Green, Calgary Flames d-man Travis Hamonic, Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak, and Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi among players who have opted out. The deadline to opt out without penalty is Monday, which is when training camps officially begin.

Among call-ups from the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate are Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka,  Connor Cliffton, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakob Zboril, Max Lagace, and Dan Vladar. Blidh had been practicing with the barsity club in Boston, and Clifton had been injured throughout most of the season.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 22 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 22 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 32-18-3-3 (70 points) and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 7-4. They would then beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1 before beating the same Penguins’ team 6-2.

The Hockey action kicks off on Saturday, February 29, 2020, when the Providence Bruins travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action wraps up on Sunday, March 1, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. It’s going to be an exciting weekend of hockey that you do not want to miss.

 

Saturday, February 29, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)

The Saturday matchup will be the 10th of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The seventh matchup would also be a good one.

The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net. The eighth battle saw the Bruins lose 6-5 in OT. Paul Carey (2), Brendan Gaunce (2), and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Martin Ouellette stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.

The most recent matchup saw the Bruins win 7-4. Brendan Gaunce (2), Paul Carey (2), Jack Studnicka, Peter Cehlarik, and Robert Lantosi scored goals. Dan Vladar went on to stop 19 of the 24 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 30-24-2 (62 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 29-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-7-3 on the road.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 170 goals in 56 games while scoring 179. This is a plus-nine goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 3.03 goals a game while scoring 3.19. The Springfield club is 8-3 when leading after the first period. They are also 20-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 6-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 2-18-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 145 goals in 56 games while scoring 179. That is a +34 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.58 goals a game while scoring 3.19. The Providence club is 18-0 when leading after one period and 27-0 when leading after two. However, they are 3-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-2 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

 

Sunday, March 1, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Sunday matchup will mark the eighth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced.

The fifth matchup was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced. The sixth game saw the Providence Bruins lose 4-1. They got their lone goal from Joona Koppanen. Max Lagace had a rough night in net stopping 26 of 30 shots fired his way. The most recent matchup saw the Bruins lose 3-1. Paul Carey had the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 30-14-6-5 (71 points), including 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.

Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 22-17-4-2, including 8-10-3-1 on the road. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 152 goals in 55 games. That means they are only giving up 2.76 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 179 goals in 56 games. That’s 3.19 goals a game. It’ll be a tough battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

 

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Studnicka has found himself in the hot category quite often this year. The young center has had an excellent first full season in Providence. He’s firmly grasped the title of the top prospect in the Bruins’ system. In 54 games this season, he’s netted 20 goals while dishing out 22 assists for 42 total points. This includes netting six goals while dishing out seven assists for 13 total points over his last 12 games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is another guy that has been in the hot category a lot recently. He is also in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward spent the beginning of his career in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In 46 games this season, he’s netted 16 goals while dishing out 17 assists for 33 total points. This includes netting five goals and dishing out six assists for 11 total points in his last nine games. Let’s hope he continues his hot streak.

Not

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is one of the top Bruins prospects. Overall, he’s had a good season. His defensive ability has been strong a large part of the season. However, offensively the young defenseman has struggled of late. In 47 games this season, he’s netted four goals while dishing out nine assists for 13 total points. However, over his past 22 games, he’s dished out two assists for two total points. Let’s hope Vaakanainen can break out of his slump soon.

Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is another guy in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. The young defenseman came to Providence after having an excellent freshman season at Ferris State University. Coming into this season, I was very high on Zech. He started off slow but recently had been playing well. In 39 games this year, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 12 assists for 14 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out two assists for three total point in his last six games.

 

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik is a guy who’s been leapfrogged by other forwards in the system. Despite this, the former third-round pick has played well this season. In 42 games, he’s netted 15 goals while dishing out 17 assists for 32 total points. The veteran forward has also played exceptionally well against Springfield. In nine games this year, he’s netted five goals while dishing out six assists for 11 total points. That means 36% of his points have come against the Thunderbirds. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Steven Kampfer: Steven Kampfer has been a bit of an unsung hero in the Bruins’ organization the past few seasons. The veteran blueliner has been a valuable seventh defenseman in Boston. He’s also provided great leadership when in Providence for the younger players. In 16 games with Providence, he’s netted three goals and dished out five assists for eight total points. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been excellent in his first full season in Providence. The veteran netminder has been a stabilizing force for the Bruins. On the season, he’s 20-7-3 with a 2.40 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He’s also recorded five shutouts on the year. Look for him this weekend.

 

The Providence Bruins are coming off an excellent week. They’ve been playing their best hockey as of late. This has come at the perfect time. They’ve been to put some points between themselves and the teams below them in the standings. This weekend is not going to be easy for the Providence club. Springfield is fighting for a playoff spot, and Hartford is ahead of them in the standings. Let’s hope our boys in black and gold can come out of the weekend with four points. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

 

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Bruins Recall Lauzon, Send Down Kampfer

Bruins Coyotes Hockey

Photo Courtesy Of The Boston Herald

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has assigned defenseman Steven Kampfer to Providence and recalled defenseman Jeremy Lauzon from Providence.

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Kampfer has skated in ten games for Boston this season, posting two assists. He also has tallied four assists in six games for Providence this season. Kampfer appeared in 35 regular season games for the varsity club last year, posting three goals and three assists for six points. He also skated in three postseason games, scoring a goal. Kampfer has appeared in 211 career games, recording 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points.

Lauzon made his season debut a few weeks ago for Boston on December 31st against the New Jersey Devils. In 43 games for Providence this season, Lauzon has totaled one goal and 12 assists for 13 points. Lauzon appeared in 16 games for the NHL club last season, posting a goal. He also skated in 29 games for Providence last season, posting a goal and six assists. Lauzon was drafted by the Bruins in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. It should be interesting to see what Lauzon can bring to the table and it is possible he is in the lineup tonight as the B’s take on the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Bruins Place Torey Krug On IR, Recall Steven Kampfer

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(LEFT: Torey Krug. Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images. RIGHT: Steven Kampfer. Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has placed defenseman Torey Krug on injured reserve and recalled d-man Steven Kampfer from the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate, on an emergency basis. Krug left the Bruins’ game against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 23 with an upper-body injury.

Krug’s injury is likely the result of a hit he took from Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Krug was stickhandling the puck before passing it off when he took a hard hit from Wilson that sent him crashing awkwardly into the boards. The blueliner was slow to get up and went down the tunnel to the Bruins’ dressing room following the hit.

Through 33 games this season, the 28-year-old leads all Bruins defenseman in scoring with five goals and 21 assists for 26 points. In 495 career NHL games, all with Boston, the 5-foot-9, 186-pound blueliner has recorded 63-251-314 numbers with 23 goals and 147 points coming on the power play.

Kampfer skated in four games with Boston, registering a plus-two rating and two penalty minutes, before clearing waivers and being sent down to Providence. In six games with the P-Bruins, the 5-foot-11, 198-pound defender has notched four assists.

Kampfer was supposed to serve a two-game suspension with Providence this weekend for interference. In 205 career NHL contests, the 31-year-old has 13-19-32 totals.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 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 AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

We are into the 12th week of the AHL season. The Providence Bruins skate into it 19-9-1-2 (41 points) and 8-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and first in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime. They would then go on to shutout the same Thunderbirds 5-0 before beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 6-0. The Bruins have a short a weekend with games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The hockey action starts on Friday, December 20, 2019, when the Providence Bruins travel to Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The weekend wraps up on Saturday, December 21, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center.

Friday, December 20, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Friday matchup marks the second of six these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins won 6-0. They got goals from Tommy Marchin (2), Pavel Shen, Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, and Peter Cehlarik. Goalie Max Lagace was superb in net stopping all 38 shots fired his way.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 14-11-3-1 (32 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 13-6-3-3. However, they are only 6-5-2 in Wilkes-Barre Scranton during that time.

This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 123 penalties in 29 games. That means they are giving up 4.32 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 25 goals out of those 123 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 79.7%, which is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 7-1-1 when leading after the first period and 8-0-1 when they are leading after the second period. It should be a close game between these two division foes. I expect the Providence club to come out on top in this one. It’s one of those games they need to win to assert themselves atop the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, December 21, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Saturday matchup will mark the fifth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 16-7-2-5 (39 points), including 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.

Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 22-14-4-2, including 8-8-3-1 at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 81 goals in 30 games. That means they are only giving up 2.7 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 109 goals in 31 games. That’s 3.51 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi came to the Providence Bruins after spending the beginning of his career in his home country of Slovakia. The young forward spent last season with HK Nitra of the Slovak Tipsport Liga, which is Slovakia’s top hockey league. In 27 games with the Providence club this year, he’s netted eight goals while dishing out 13 assists for 21 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out seven assists for nine total points in his last seven games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an up and down season this year, but recently is playing very well. In 28 games this season, he’s netted four goals and dished out 13 assists for 17 total points. The former University of Wisconsin Badger also finds himself in the middle of a four-game point streak. During the streak, he’s netted two goals and dished out five assists for seven total points.

Not

Brendan Woods: Brendan Woods has had an average season for the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward came to Providence after spending the last two seasons with the Utica Comets. In 19 games, the former University of Wisconsin Badger has netted five goals and dished out four assists for nine total points. Despite this, he only has one point, an assist in his last seven games. Let’s hope he breaks the slump soon.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has had a good season for the Providence Bruins. The former first-round pick came to the Providence club after spending his entire career in the Vancouver system. In 20 games this year, the veteran forward has netted seven goals while dishing out seven assists for 14 total points. Despite this, he only has registered one point, an assist over his past five games.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. In 29 games, the young forward has netted 13 goals while dishing out 12 assists for 25 total points. His development has been stellar. Studnicka is an absolute joy to watch play. His game is not only developing offensively but defensively as well. Look for him to have a big weekend.

On The Blue Line

Steven Kampfer: Steven Kampfer has spent the majority of the season as the defensive substitute in Boston. With Boston getting healthier, the veteran defenseman was sent down to Providence to get more work in. The former University of Michigan Wolverine has registered three points, all assists in the four games since arriving in Providence. Look for the veteran defenseman to provide leadership on the blue line.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has been excellent in the four games he’s played since coming back from injury. The young netminder looks more confident between the pipes. In those four games, he’s 3-1 stopping 119 of the 123 shots fired his way. That means he has a .967 save percentage with a 0.99 GAA. He’s also recorded two shutouts in those four games. Look for him to try and keep up his stellar play.

The Providence Bruins look poised to make a big run towards the playoffs this year. It’s feasible that the Providence club ends up getting home ice for a round or two in the playoffs. That would be huge. This team has the chance to do something we haven’t seen them do in a very long time, and I say enjoy the ride. I hope everyone has an absolutely marvelous Holiday. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Steven Kampfer Clears Waivers, Will Join Providence Bruins

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Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Monday, Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer cleared waivers, meaning he will report to the Providence Bruins. Yesterday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team had placed Kampfer on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence.

In four games with Boston this season, Kampfer has yet to record a point, but has a plus-two rating, two penalty minutes, and four shots on goal. In 35 games last year, the 31-year-old posted three goals and three assists for six points to go along with a minus-six rating and 22 penalty minutes. Kampfer also scored one goal in three playoff contests during last year’s campaign.

Kampfer spent three games with Providence last season during a conditioning stint while coming back from injury. In that span, the veteran blueliner notched a goal and an assist as well as a plus-three rating.

Through 252 AHL contests on his career, the Ann Arbor, MI., native 28-82-110 numbers. The University of Michigan product totaled 60 points in 147 collegiate games.

Kampfer was selected 93rd-overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and on March, 2, 2010, Boston acquired him for a conditional fourth-round pick. Kampfer signed his three-year entry-level contract with Boston and joined the P-Bruins for the remainder of the 2009-10 campaign. He appeared in 38 NHL contests as a rookie in the 2010-11 campaign, recording 5-5-10 totals. During the offseason, Kampfer and the Bruins agreed to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value worth $800,000.

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.

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Breaking: Bruins Place Steven Kampfer on Waivers

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game One

( Photo Credit: CBS Boston )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins announced today that the club has placed defenseman Steven Kampfer on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.

Kampfer has played in four games this season for the Bruins posting no points. The 31-year-old Ann Arbor, Michigan native and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins re-signed Kampfer this past offseason to a two-year deal worth $800,000 per season.

The news comes after the Bruins are gaining some defenseman back into their lineup as John Moore played his second game of the year after returning from offseason shoulder surgery which scratched Connor Clifton and Kampfer.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 156 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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The Bruins Have A Logjam On Defense

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(Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/AP)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

In the 2016-17 playoffs versus Ottawa, the Bruins were forced to use both rookies like Charlie McAvoy and career 8-9 defenseman like Joe Morrow in games because their defense had been decimated by injuries. The next year it was guys like Matt Grzelcyk and Nick Holden in the lineup vs Toronto and Tampa. I can only assume that as the Bruins were being eliminated in Game 5 of their series against the Bolts, GM Don Sweeney was vowing never again to have a depth problem in the playoffs.

That summer he signed left-handed defenseman John Moore to a five-year deal. During camp, he dealt blue-liner Adam McQuaid to the Rangers but acquired the less expensive former Bruin, Steve Kampfer, in the deal along with a draft pick. That gave them proven NHL players in: Chara, McAvoy, Krug, Carlo, Moore, Miller, Kampfer. They also had Matt Grzelcyk, who had played well in 2017-18 as a rookie, not to mention promising youngsters like Vaakaneinen, Lauzon, Zboril. At the time, I remember the B’s faithful asking where all these defensemen were going to play. Apparently, Sweeney knew what he was doing?

In 2018-19, because of injuries, Boston ended up using 12 different defensemen over the course of the regular season and playoffs. All of the guys I mentioned above, plus a pleasant surprise in the form of free-agent signee Connor Clifton. A 5th round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2013, Clifton was unable to come to a contract agreement with them after four years at Quinnipiac University. He ended up signing an AHL deal with Providence and performed well enough in 2017-18 to earn himself a two-year NHL deal. He ended up filling in admirably during the regular season after the usual myriad of injuries, playing 19 games. He played another 18 games in the playoffs as Boston went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Before the 2019-20 season would even begin, the Bruins depth on defense would again be tested. John Moore needed offseason surgery after he played through an injured shoulder in the playoffs last year. Kevan Miller, who ended last season on the injured reserve, would start there to begin the season. Neither Moore nor Miller has played a single game for the Bruins this year, but it appears that both are finally getting healthy, and could push for playing time within the next few weeks (Moore is closer). On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing for the Bruins, but it will force Don Sweeney and his staff to make some decisions.

The first hurdle for Sweeney was that he and head coach Bruce Cassidy would have to decide what to do with Connor Clifton, who has been quickly approaching the point where he would no longer be waiver exempt. The obvious advantage to Clifton maintaining his exempt status is that he could be sent down to Providence without another team being able to claim him when he went through the waiver process. It was something that the B’s front office must have been thinking about long and hard because Clifton sat out two of the last five games in favor of Steven Kampfer before Sunday. Apparently, the staff came to some sort of conclusion, because Clifton played his 60th NHL game against Montreal, which will mark the end of his “exempt” status.

Most people who follow the team thing it’s a foregone conclusion that Clifton would not make it through waivers if the Bruins attempted to send him down at this point. Sweeney is not going to just give an asset like Clifton away, so the logical assumption is that he is here to stay with the big club.

Other relevant news that was announced Sunday was that John Moore had been loaned to Providence of the AHL for the purpose of a “conditioning stint”. Moore played that afternoon in Providence’s 4-0 win over the Charlotte Checkers, where he recorded an assist and was a “plus” two for the game.

Moore has since been recalled and placed back on LTIR, but the Bruins have said he may be ready to play Thursday. The maximum amount of active players allowed on an NHL roster at any one time is 23. With David Backes being activated off the IR for the game against Montreal, and Gaunce sent down, the Bruins are at 22 right now. With Clifton’s waiver status changed, Moore supposedly ready to play Thursday and Kevan Miller getting closer to full health, something is going to have to give. The Bruins can add Moore to the roster and I believe they will be ok as long as Miller is still on the LTIR.

In the short-term, I would not be surprised to see the Bruins waive Kampfer. I think his ability to sit out for long periods and still play well when called upon is valuable, but I believe he would pass through waivers unclaimed (unlike Clifton). The problem is even if the B’s carry 8 D/13 F, when/if Miller returns someone is going to have to get moved.

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(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

It would appear that the two most likely candidates for a trade would be Moore or Miller. The Bruins have won so far this season without them, so it makes sense one of them would go. The two guys are apples and oranges in my opinion. Miller is the more physical of the two, and that’s definitely something the team could use more of. On the flip side, Moore is a big body and a very good skater, but not overly physical. One advantage he has is that he is comfortable playing either side, whereas Miller is strictly a right side guy.

It’s going to be an extremely difficult decision for the front office, but one that has to be made because of the emergence of players like Grzelcyk and Clifton. It’s a good problem to have and one that 30 other NHL teams likely would not mind having.

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.

 

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Bruins’ Defensemen And Goaltenders Grades At The Quarter Point Of The Season

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Boston Bruins currently sit atop the entire NHL and their defense and goaltending is a major reason why. They’ve allowed the second least amount of goals in the league and with their incredibly deep defensive core and top goaltending tandem, they should continue their stellar play for the rest of the year. Now at the quarter-point of the season, it seems like a good time to look at how good the Bs defense and goaltending has been.

Zdeno Chara – A

It’s hard to believe that a 42-year-old is having one of his best statistical seasons in years, but Zdeno Chara continues to amaze. Through 26 games, the big man has five goals, seven assists, and a +16 rating. While we’ve all seen his legs slow down over the years, Chara still remains one of the best shut-down guys in the league.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy – B+

One may look at Charlie McAvoy’s stat-line (seven assists in 26 games) and think that McAvoy hasn’t played up to standards but that is simply not the case. He continues to grow his defensive game and whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side of the puck, he seems to make a game-changing play once a game. Offensively, you’d like to see some more growth from the former 1st-rounder but that will come in time.

Torey Krug – A

Over the past few seasons, Torey Krug has emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and that narrative has stayed the same throughout this season. Already with 18 points in just 21 games, Krug is well on his way to another big season for the Bs. In just the three games since returning from his injury, Torey Krug has shown how important he is to the Boston Bruins. His vision, puck movement and skating ability is second to few in the league and his five points within those three games show just that. 

Brandon Carlo – A

Many people’s biggest gripe with Brandon Carlo in the past was how little offense he was able to generate. However, the key part of that statement is “in the past.” We’ve seen steady growth in Carlo’s ability to join the rush over the past couple seasons and it’s really paying dividends this season. He’s already over halfway to his career-high of 16 points and with 3/4 of the season to go, he seems primed to break that number.

 

Matt Grzelcyk

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

Matt Grzelcyk – A

I’ve been on the Matt Grzelcyk train for a while and he just continues to improve seemingly every game. The former Boston University captain has been excellent this year, especially when fellow blueliner Torey Krug went down with an injury. In Krug’s absence, Grzelcyk was forced to play bigger minutes while slotting in on the first powerplay and the increased role didn’t phase Grzelcyk at all. in the five games without Krug, Gryz potted two goals (both of which were beauties), four points, and was a +3.

Connor Clifton – B

Connor Clifton has been as sound as a third-pairing defenseman can be. Entering his first season with a full-time role, Clifton hasn’t looked out of place at all. Despite his smaller frame at 5-11, the defenseman isn’t scared to throw his body around. He sits second out of all rookies in hits and has added two goals and a positive rating to begin the season. 

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer (44) fired up after scoring the 1st goal of the game. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 09, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire Getty Images)

Steven Kampfer – C

There isn’t much to say about Stevie-snipes as he’s only played in three games, but in those three games, he’s looked solid. Kampfer’s possession statistics have actually been great, his Corsi and Fenwick sit at 60.3 and 63.2 respectively. His +1 rating and no points tell most of his story this year, he’s been everything he’s needed to be as a #7 defenseman.

Urho Vaakanainen – C+

Unlike last season where Vaakanainen’s stint was cut short due to an injury, we got to see a bit more of the young defenseman this year. He’s not the type of playing to blow you away but he looked like a better player compared to last season. The Fin is an incredibly fluid skater and his puck skills have continued to grow. While it doesn’t play into this grade, his stat-line since returning to the AHL has been very promising, with three goals and three assists in three games.

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Images)

Tuukka Rask – A+

The league leader in wins, top three in goals allowed average, top five in save percentage with a save of the year candidate to boot; but Tuukka Rask stinks, right? After failing to capture Lord Stanley the prior season, Tuukka has looked in the zone this season. He’s been one of Boston’s top players in all but a few games, only allowing more than three goals in just three games within his first 16 starts. Say what you want about Rask, but his stats speak for themselves.

Jaroslav Halak – A

Jaroslav Halak simply isn’t a backup goalie; he is the 1B to Tuukka Rask’s 1A. Last season, Halak was able to come in and provide much-needed stability to the Bruins’ net and has continued that through the first quarter of this season. In the ten games, he has appeared in, he’s put up a 6-1-3 record with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 goals allowed average. 

Click here to check out the Bs’ forwards graded!

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!!

Salls: Ideal Bruins Lineup on Opening Night: Version One

Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets

(Photo Credit: Christopher Evans, Boston Herald)

By Carrie Salls | Follow Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to fellow Black N Gold Hockey writer Mike Cratty, who started the ball rolling with his thoughts on what the Bruins’ opening day lineup should look like, as well as to the other members of the Black N Gold writing team who have since added their insights. Here are the links to all of their contributions. If you haven’t already, please give them a read.

Mike Cratty, Garrett Haydon, Max Mainville, Yanni Latzanakis, Tim A. Richardson.

Without further ado, I’m ready to throw my hat into the ring. Keep in mind, this is the lineup I think will give the team the best chance to beat the Dallas Stars on opening night, Oct. 3, based on the current players available and who I believe will be available once the season rolls around. A lot could and likely will change in the meantime. Enjoy.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen

For all the knocks on Danton Heinen’s lack of production in this sophomore season, Heinen proved in David Pastrnak’s absence during the 2018-2019 campaign that he, more than any other option coach Bruce Cassidy tried, can be a valuable asset lining up alongside Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen has the puck possession and defensive skills to hold up his end against other teams’ top lines. An added bonus is that Heinen himself recently acknowledged that he needs to work on pulling the trigger. If he can improve on the hesitation to shoot that seemed to especially plague him during the team’s playoff run, he will be a solid choice for the first line.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak

What to do with the second line? Not an easy fix for Cassidy and crew to be sure, but I think a little consistency can return this line to glory. Yes, the coaching staff tried moving Pastrnak to the second line a few times last season, with little to no success. However, the move rarely stuck for more than one or two games, sometimes even one or two periods. With a chance to build some chemistry with linemates Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci from the get-go, Pastrnak could very well bring a major scoring threat to a second line that has struggled to find its identity.

Third Line: Nordstrom – Coyle – Ritchie

Fourth Line: Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner

I myself almost cannot believe I am suggesting this, especially when it means breaking up arguably the best fourth line in the National Hockey League. However, the departure of Noel Acciari has changed the dynamic of that line a bit anyway. An argument certainly could be made to switch Anders Bjork and Joakim Nordstrom here, but I believe the team would be better served to use Bjork on a line with Sean Kuraly to start off the season. Bjork and Kuraly have played together in the past and may have a better comfort level than Bjork would with Coyle and Ritchie. This move is designed to help Bjork find his game, at least until he is far enough along in his comeback bid to warrant a promotion or until it appears he is not ready.

Extra Forwards: David Backes, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman

Defense

Here is where it really starts to get tricky. Simply put, it doesn’t appear that the Bruins have enough available cap space to re-sign both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, especially in the wake of the New York Rangers’ decision to give young defenseman Jacob Trouba a seven-year contract worth $8 million per year. As a result, consider these suggested defensive pairings to be written in pencil.

Chara – McAvoy

Of the two restricted-free-agent D-men the Bruins still need to sign, the team has more leverage to keep McAvoy in the Spoked B, and he is arguably the more attractive option between the two, even if the difference is negligible. Assuming McAvoy remains a Bruin this year, there is no real reason to stray from this normal pairing, keeping in mind that Chara’s minutes may be reduced.

Krug – Clifton

Since this projection involves the Bruins re-signing McAvoy, it is difficult to imagine how Brandon Carlo could also remain in the fold, barring a trade or the somewhat unlikely chance of one or both agreeing to sign a bridge deal. Connor Clifton filled in admirably in every defensive pairing he was placed in last season. In fact, he played so well that he stuck around after the blue-line contingency got healthier. Krug is likely the heir apparent to Chara’s slot, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up more playing time if the captain’s ice-time is cut back.

Grzelcyk – Kampfer

Few would argue that Matt Grzelcyk would be higher up in the lineup on a team that did not have the defensive depth the Bruins enjoy. Gryz played with a revolving door of partners in the past season, including Clifton, Steven Kampfer and John Moore, and didn’t seem to miss a beat. Kampfer works hard and is a true team player. He deserves a shot to start the year.

Extra Defense: Kevan Miller, Urho Vaakanainen

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak

This was one of the best goaltender tandems in the National Hockey League last year and there is no reason to believe that would change. Halak may be one player who could garner some trade interest and open up some cap space, but it would most likely not be enough to keep both McAvoy and Carlo in Boston.