Big Questions Remain On Defense For Bruins

zdeno_chara_charlie_mcavoy

(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

For all the talk of how the Boston Bruins are going to find the elusive second-line right wing and third-line center to shore up the front 12 going into the 2019-2020 season, the fact is that many more questions remain about just who will be defending the blue line when the season begins on Oct. 3 in Dallas.

Let’s start with what we know. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer are the members of the defensive corps that saw regular playing time for the Bruins last season who are currently under contract and presumably healthy coming into camp in September. They are healthy, that is, if Chara and Grzelcyk have fully recovered from injuries and concussion symptoms, respectively, that forced them to miss some games in the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To arrive at this point, the Bruins re-signed free agent Kampfer and awarded Clifton’s play with a three-year contract extension. The Bruins’ front office likely considers Clifton to be a key piece of the team’s future on defense, so he was locked up while so many other pieces of the puzzle were still jumbled. For his part, Kampfer proved himself to be a valuable asset to the team last year, playing the difficult-to-find role of the veteran presence who was willing to sit out for long periods with no complaints and play a reliable, solid game when called upon.

That brings us to the unknowns. The two biggest questions, of course, are the statuses of restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. The Bruins made qualifying offers to both of these players, and general manager Don Sweeney said he has been in talks with both young stars’ camps. However, despite rumblings that Carlo may be close to coming to terms with the team, no official word has come from the team as to how close the Bruins are to making a deal with either of these young defensemen.

The main roadblock the Bruins face in re-signing McAvoy and Carlo is the team’s extremely limited salary-cap picture. It looks like the possibility of Sweeney being able to dump some or all of David Backes’ $6 million salary is essentially non-existent. The fact that restricted free agent forward Danton Heinen has elected salary arbitration, with an answer on how much his contract will cost the Bruins not coming for at least a couple of weeks, complicates the matter even further.

Sweeney said that he feels the team is likely finished signing unrestricted free agents after he added several depth pieces in early July. As a result, the focus turns to potential trade scenarios that may help the team clear up some additional cap space. However, the defensive outlook is further clouded by the fact that potential trade pieces could include Krug, whose point production and power play prowess make him a valuable target, as well as two Bruins D-men who have yet to be mentioned, Kevan Miller and John Moore.

Moore was signed to a five-year deal by the Bruins in the summer of 2018. He saw occasional runs of decent playing time throughout the 2018-2019 season but was often the odd man out when the full complement of defensemen was healthy. The problem is, Moore, soldiered through much of the playoffs with an upper-arm injury that required surgery when the season ended. As a result, he may not be healthy enough to return to game action until January, all but eliminating him as a trade candidate.

While Miller may be well ahead of Moore in rehabilitating a broken kneecap, nearly the entire 2018-2019 season was lost with one injury after another costing Miller significant playing time. Given his history of injuries, the trade market may not be all that deep for the gritty veteran.

Given all of the uncertainty brought on by injuries and contract issues, two prospects, in particular, could be called upon to provide defensive depth in the upcoming season: Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakaneinen. Lauzon spent some time filling in for an injury-depleted defensive squad last season, appearing in 16 games, and played well. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Vaakaneinen played just two games for the big club but appeared to have the potential to fight for a spot on the NHL team. Whether these two top defensive prospects will get more playing time in Boston or perhaps be traded to clear cap space remains to be seen.

With Chara, who will turn 43 this coming season, signing just a one-year extension in March and Grzelcyk and Krug facing free agency next summer, Bruins management will likely have tough decisions to make on the defensive front for the foreseeable future.

What Should The Bruins Do About Torey Krug?

Krug

( Photo Courtesy of Patrick Smith / Getty Imagines )

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Coming into this off-season, the Boston Bruins had a few questions that needed answering when it comes to the roster. One of the main questions is, what do the Bruins do about Torey Krug? The former Michigan State University defenseman is 28 years old and heading into the final year of a four-year 21 million dollar deal. He’s also coming off a fantastic season. In 64 games this year Krug netted six goals while dishing out 47 assists for 53 total points and on top of that in 24 playoff games he netted two goals while dishing out 16 assists for 18 total points. Krug firmly established himself as one of the Bruins top players while also reminding us that he’s not afraid to throw his body around.

The other major thing that Krug brings to the table is that he runs the first power-play unit. The Bruins have not been able to find another player that can run the power play like the former Michigan State Spartan does, though not for lack of trying. Given all of the information that I just provided, it would seem like this is a no-brainer for Don Sweeney, you re-sign Torey Krug. However, it’s not so simple. Krug will be 29 at the beginning of next off-season. He will also likely command a six or seven-year deal worth over seven million dollars a year. That’s a lot of money to commit to a player for any team, but especially one who has as many restricted free agents in the next two seasons, most of whom you’d like to keep.

This season, Boston has around 13 million dollars in salary cap space. They also have three major RFAs to sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen. After next season the Bruins have 34 million dollars to spend and one nine roster spots committed not including Carlo, McAvoy, and Heinen. On top of that, Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are also RFAs. That’s seven players that you likely want to keep. The Boston Bruins may not have the luxury of re-signing Torey Krug unless he does take another team friendly deal. This means that Boston has a big decision to make. What do they do assuming they cannot re-sign Krug?

They have a few options. First, they could try and move Krug for a top-six forward. This is something that has been speculated by analysts and fans alike. While this is definitely a viable option, you would have to make sure that you had a defenseman ready to take Krug’s spot on the power-play. At this point in time, I do not believe trading him for a top-six forward is the best option. The player that you get in return probably will not have as big of an impact on the game as Krug does, and you are likely better off filling that second-line right wing position with an internal option rather than giving up Krug.

That leads us to our next option, you keep Torey Krug the entire season and then hope for the best in free agency. This is basically buying into yourself and believing that the team you have constructed can make another deep run into the playoffs. Then at the end of the season, you hope for the best, and maybe Krug surprises you signing a team friendly deal. To me, this is the best option. Torey Krug has proven his worth tenfold over the past few seasons both offensively and defensively. His ability on the power-play is one that cannot be duplicated right now, and this gives you a full season to finally groom his replacement. Plus, the fact of the matter is that you are a better hockey team Torey Krug on it.

With the salary cap situations and RFAs, the Boston Bruins will have some big questions to answer sooner rather than later. For the Torey Krug situation, I believe keeping him is the best option. Yes, you run the risk of losing him in free agency for nothing, but having him on the team gives you the best chance to win next season. Ultimately we have an interesting free agency period and season on the horizon, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Everything You Need To Know About The Boston Bruins Break Up Day

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, lies on the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues Monday, June 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Zdeno Chara

This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.

Kevan Miller

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.

Dec 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) takes a knee on the ice during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

( Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/ USA TODAY Sports )

David Krejci

No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”

Jake Debrusk

He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.

Brad Marchand

It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.

David Pastrnak

Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.

John Moore

This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”

Charlie Mcavoy

Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.

Boston Bruins’ Marcus Johansson was hospitalized after an enormous hit by the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland sent him flying to the ice during Tuesday’s game.Â

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”

Noel Acciari

The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.

Steven Kampfer

The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”

David Backes

Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.

Torey Krug

One of the biggest question marks of this offseason is “definitely very aware of the situations and scenarios that can play out” but also “wants to be here forever.”

Bergeron, Krug With Impressive Playoff Points For Bruins

Image
(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

When you think of perfection, a word that shares both literal & figurative resonance with the B’s top players & top line–led by none other than Patrice Bergeron himself, you think of a number. Well, two numbers now. 100 & 37.

And since hockey, by and large, is a numbers game — especially when lining up a hit between the numbers — it was only fitting that Bergy bested some of Boston’s best ever in a game three performance that completely tilted the ice (and perhaps the series) in the Black N’ Gold’s favor.

But the defacto co-captain of the Bruins wasn’t the only “B” buzzing around the rink and score sheet in St. Louis. Enter MSU alum and power play specialist Torey Krug to the conversation, whose big night from the blue line rivaled that of Bergy.

In fact, Krug’s quatro-point performance propelled him into unparalleled Boston Bruins hockey history. He became the first EVER B’s defenseman (aka defenceman) to record four points in a Stanley Cup Finals game. That’s right… Shore never did it. Orr never did it. Bourque never did it. Big Z never did it. But, No. 47 did!

And if that wasn’t impressive enough… Krug also entered into elite National Hockey League playoff history with his puck-perfect performance–one that definitely gave the hard-hitting and oft-whining opposing team the Blues (cue “Roll Over Beethoven” from Chuck Barry, not Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” for this).

What a nice problem for the Bruins and B’s fans to have after a decisive 7-2 victory, right? Two of their most important & pivotal players each reaching milestones in the SCF! And at the most timely of times to regain home ice and also give a struggling perfection line and top PP unit a big boost of confidence moving forward. Will the numbers continue to trend in this direction? Most likely not at such a historic pace, but even if the B’s received half of what we saw in game three, then the odds are looking good for going back to Boston with a chance to win it all. And all thanks to the inspired scoring and point production of Patrice & Torey — oh, what a story!

Image result for krug bergeron stanley cup(Photo Credit: Hockey News)

Now, wouldn’t that be perfect?

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 3: Boston at St. Louis

YSAcDHZnXDEqkZke6axeqQ.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

With the series deadlocked at one apiece, the Stanley Cup Finals head to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Three of the best-of-seven series. The Bruins left Game Two with an overtime loss in an overtime session that had zero offensive chances whatsoever – resulting in the goal against on the penalty-kill.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (13-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (13-6)

Last Game Result: Blues won 3-2 in OT

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is out of the lineup after taking a hard hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Game Two. Sundqvist was handed a one-game suspension as a result of the injury, but regardless Boston will be without Grzelcyk tonight. In replace of him, John Moore enters the lineup.

First Period:

For the first time in 49 years, the Blues are hosting a home game in the Stanley Cup Finals and the atmosphere in St. Louis showed that. The crowd was explosive and deafening in the pre-game anthem and ceremonies. Once the puck dropped, the two teams exchanged some hard hits, including a massive one on David Backes by Sammy Blais. Right back the other way, Jake DeBrusk goes for a hit, but gets called on a knee-on-knee hit, Boston goes shorthanded just over a minute into the first.

The Blues had some solid chances early on the man-advantage, with the best one coming later on the power-play from David Perron, but Tuukka Rask stays strong with a big save.  Vladimir Tarasenko also had a chance with a short-side shot on Rask but gets stopped and this game returns to 5-on-5.

Even after the early power-play, the Blues controlled the game and it took until roughly the six-minute mark of the opening frame to record their first shot, a close one by Charlie Coyle that almost past Binnington who was all the way on his stomach. Bruins need to come out more aggressive on the offensive attacks.

Not long after that, the Bruins’ first line had some good puck movement and had some decent chances – good signs for Boston. In Boston’s zone, Tarasenko nearly strikes first but again, Rask stays big and strong and keeps this game tied 0-0. A high-paced game made even more exciting with the roaring St. Louis crowd in attendance.

That first line of Boston has their best shift of the series later on in the period. Fantastic passing and zone coverage leads to a David Pastrnak one-timer that somehow gets saved by a sprawling Binnington. Pastrnak has been throwing everything towards the Blues net, trying to get deflections and rebounds. Good start for Boston.

St. Louis has been sending their defensemen hard to the net to get some chances, but it is only allowing chances the other way. David Backes and Jake DeBrusk find themselves on a 2-on-1 chance, only for Alex Pietrangelo to break up the chance. In the neutral zone, though, David Perron clearly interferes with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins go to their first man-advantage of the hockey game with 9:34 remaining in the first period.

The power-play stays hot. Only twenty-one seconds into the man-advantage, Torey Krug rifles a shot off of a faceoff win that gets deflected by none other than Patrice Bergeron, beating Binnington glove high. Assists go to Krug and DeBrusk – Bruins lead 1-0.

With the intensity level rising even more than they already were, both Connor Clifton and Ivan Barbashev get matching minors during a battle between the two and the game heads to 4-on-4 action for the next two minutes of play. St. Louis ate up a good 30-45 seconds just passing the puck within their own zone. Not a whole lot of opportunities for either team in a very defensive 4-on-4 session.

With just around two minutes left in the frame, Charlie Coyle does a terrific job taking the puck up the ice, avoiding the defenders, and passing it off to Danton Heinen. Heinen drops the puck for Johansson who makes a beautiful pass off a slick fake shot right to Coyle, beating Binnington and extending the Bruins’ lead to two goals.

Only seconds are ticking away on the clock, Joakim Nordstrom gets tied up with the Blues defenceman, leaving the puck alone for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly just shoots the puck with a screen in front of Binnington and it goes past the red line. The play caught the young goaltender off guard and Boston makes it 3-0 with seven seconds to go.

Craig Berube challenged the play for offside, but the goal stands after the review and Blues are handed a bench minor. Boston will have 1:50 of power-play time to start the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 8

Score: 3-0 Bruins – Goals: Bergeron (8) PP Assists: Krug (12), DeBrusk (6); Coyle (8) Assists: Johansson (7), Heinen (6); Kuraly (4) Assists: Nordstrom (4)

Second Period:

Typically, a power-play at the very beginning of a period is a lot more difficult to score on, but not in this case. Only forty-one seconds into the second period, Torey Krug finds Pastrnak down low. Pastrnak makes a quick deke and roofs it past Jordan Binnington on the blocker side, extending Boston’s lead to four goals. The once loud crowd in attendance is silent and a pin drop could be heard. Momentum is all in Boston’s favour.

Boston controlled the first few minutes of this period after the goal as well, shooting the puck often, making wise defensive decisions and just looking good. Eight minutes into the middle period, Jaden Schwartz hits McAvoy behind the Bruins net. Only seconds later, McAvoy clears the puck but catches his stick on Brayden Schenn’s stick and he goes off. While McAvoy skates to the box, Pat Maroon and Zdeno Chara go off for unsportsmanlike conduct, leaving Boston without Chara and McAvoy on the PK. However, no issues as the B’s make their eighteenth straight successful penalty kill and we are back to even strength.

In need of serious momentum, the Blues get some great zone control when the Bruins are dead tired – needing a desperate line change. St. Louis knows this and makes sure they cannot go off, cycling the puck down low and eventually scoring past Tuukka Rask. Ivan Barbashev fires a shot from a Zach Sanford pass in front that takes a double deflection off of Charlie McAvoy, cutting the lead to three.

Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron get another good zone entry with some good passing before Brad Marchand draws a penalty on Colton Parayko. While Parayko sits in the box, the Bruins make it look easy. Clean, tape-to-tape passes by the Bruins eventually lead to a bullet shot from Torey Krug that deflects off of a Blues defenceman in front of the net and beats Binnington. Immediate response to St. Louis’ tally and Jordan Binnington is pulled as a result, Jake Allen enters the cage.

The Blues had some chances later in the period, including a post shot, but failed to strike again. David Perron ran into Tuukka Rask with about twenty seconds remaining, followed by a nose-to-nose staredown between the Bruins goaltender and the Blues forward. Rask had no intentions of touching him, a great show of self-control and calmness from the Finnish netminder. The second period ends not long after, 5-1 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 18

Score: 5-1 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (8) PP Assists: Krug (13), Bergeron (6); Barbashev (3) Assists: Sanford (1), Steen (3); Krug (2) PP Assists: Marchand (12), Bergeron (7)

Third Period:

Less than a minute into the final regulation period, the game returns to 4-on-4 hockey. In the middle of a net-front battle, Clifton cross-checks Sammy Blais and the arm of the official goes in the air. After the whistle blows, David Perron also gets called on a minor penalty – two for roughing.

Not long into the pair of penalties, Brandon Carlo takes a careless interference penalty on Ryan O’Reilly right in front of Tuukka Rask, forcing the game to 4-on-3. St. Louis tried to make passes around the triangle formation of Boston’s defence, but they failed to get much through the bodies in front and both the 4-on-3 and the 5-on-4 afterwards conclude with no goals for the Blues.

Six minutes into the frame, captain Zdeno Chara takes another penalty for Boston. On the power-play, Colton Parayko fires a shot from the point, bounces off of Brandon Carlo and knuckles over the shoulder of Rask, making it a three-goal game once again. Blues end the 19-kill streak on the penalty-kill for Boston.

A careless third period for Boston continues when Jake DeBrusk goes to clear the puck out of the zone but clears it out of the rink in the meantime. Third consecutive power-play for St. Louis in the period, with a chance to make it 5-3 with over thirteen minutes remaining. Boston’s players shorthanded do a great job with a textbook PK, shutting St. Louis down fully – back to even strength.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled goaltender Jake Allen with 5:30 remaining in the game, trying to get a quick goal and make this one a little bit more interesting. The Bruins took until under two minutes left in the game, Joakim Nordstrom feeding it to Noel Acciari for the 6-2 goal. Just beforehand, McAvoy blocked a huge shot on the inside of the knee and was in some pain on the bench.

Somewhere in there, the Blues take another penalty and Boston does not go easy, Marcus Johansson strikes on a clean one-timer goal – Boston going 4-for-4 on the man-advantage and take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 7-2 victory on the road.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 STL: 29

Final Score: 7-2 Bruins – 2-1 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .931 SV%

2nd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 22:09 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 58% Faceoffs, 15:58 TOI

Game Four goes down Monday, June 3rd at 8:00pm EST in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bruins’ Krug Delivers Crushing Open Ice Hit, But Was It Charging?

(Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Globe Staff)

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

 

The Boston Bruins shook off the inevitable rust that an eleven-day break will bring and skated to a convincing 4-2 victory over the St Louis Blues in game one of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Monday night.  Despite the highly entertaining game, a major focus of attention in the aftermath was whether or not a thunderous open-ice hit delivered by Bruins’ defenseman Torey Krug on Blues forward Robert Thomas in the third period should have been penalized for charging.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As the hockey world lost its collective minds over the play and the debate continues to rage on 24 hours later, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at charging in the NHL Rule Book in order to form an opinion once and for all as to who’s right and who’s wrong in this debate.

According to the 2018-19 NHL Rule Book, charging is defined as follows:

Rule 42 – Charging

42.1 Charging – A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into or charges an opponent in any manner.

Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The argument being made most commonly by those who believe the officials neglected to call a deserved charging penalty is that Krug skated a long distance to deliver the hit and therefore it constitutes a charge.  What those people are failing to consider is that hockey is a game that involves players skating over distance to make various plays, including hits, at speed.

Traditionally, when charging has been called, and the distance traveled argument is made, the play usually involves a player going out of his way, or deviating from the normal course of play to deliver the hit.  In the case of Krug in game one, there is an argument that he traveled some distance prior to making the hit.  This is a fact.  I would pose a counter-argument, however, that Krug was skating hard to get into position following his entanglement in the defensive zone with Blues forward David Perron.  Krug was skating hard to gain position in the offensive zone, which is where the puck was, and the hit he delivered was one that presented itself on his arrival into that position.

Another argument some have made is that Krug left his feet to deliver the hit, another element that is often satisfied on a charging call.  This simply was not the case on this hit.  Krug’s momentum upon impact caused him to leave his feet AFTER delivering the hit, but not before.  The fact to the matter is that Krug did not jump into Thomas, the impact itself caused Krug’s feet to leave the ice, not the other way around.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

A defense of Krug’s hit that has been argued is that Krug was gliding for a considerable distance and not striding into Thomas when the hit was delivered.  This again is a fact.  Krug takes his final stride at the offensive zone blue line and makes contact with Thomas just above the hash marks of the faceoff circle.  Krug was gliding at impact and did not leave his feet, this eliminates two of the elements commonly cited in cases of charging.  It is undeniable that Krug is traveling at great speed, but upon checking, skating fast is not a punishable offense in the NHL Rule Book.

The final argument that has made the rounds is that Krug is a 28-year-old man delivering that hit on a 19-year-old kid.    This holds absolutely no relevance whatsoever.  Thomas is an NHL player participating in the Stanley Cup Final.  End-of-story.  He’s also 6’0”, 192 pounds and was hit by a player who stands 5’9” and is listed at 186 pounds.  The argument that he shouldn’t be hit due to his age simply doesn’t cut it, if his teammates have an issue with that, then they could stand up for him.  They didn’t, and it remains to be seen if they will as the series continues.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

To put a bow on this play, it was a devastating hit delivered by Krug that was not penalized.  Whether or not it was a punishable charge is debatable, but the on-ice officials saw it as a hard, clean hit.  The only thing we can all hope for is that the standard of officiating has been set, and shall remain consistent as this series progresses.  In a season and post-season in which the officials have come under fire all too often, on this occasion, they appear to have gotten it right.

Relishing The Moment: Boston Bruins Brandon Carlo

Image result for brandon carlo(Photo Credits: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

For the last two years, bad luck has struck a certain 6-foot-5 Boston Bruins defenseman and as 2018-1019 regular season drew to a close, the reaction was to wrap him up in bubble wrap.  This time around though, Lady Luck has FINALLY come knocking (with fingers and toes crossed) and Brandon Carlo is more than ready to hit the ice as he plays in his first Stanley Cup Finals.

For Carlo, this season has been his best so far and he has become one of the most reliable defensemen on the roster. In this post-season run, the 22-year-old has averaged 20:00 minutes of ice time and so far has two points in 17 games. As a first-year player, Carlo had to work in finding out exactly what type of NHLer he would become and had a pretty promising good season. However, his pairing with Torey Krug late in the second season led to less than favorable results and Carlo seemed unable to make the right adjustments. This time around though, the Bruins are seeing a more physical and mentally prepared defenseman:

“Once I got more of my mental game under me throughout this year, I started taking strides forward. When I make a mistake, I don’t really think about it anymore. I brush it off and move on to the next play. That’s a big thing the coaches have talked to me about, the staff as well at the end of last season. Just learning from that experience has been really big for me. And watching other players in the league do it as well.”

Aside from developing his mental game, Carlo has had the advantage of being on a team steeped with a veteran core that boasts the likes of  Chara, Bergeron, and Backes. And as the team gears up for tonight’s Game One against St. Louis, he recently touched on the subject of chemistry and how it has affected this team:

“Everybody loves one another. I think that’s a strong word, but overall it’s true. This group is all about playing for each other. Hanging out off the ice, doing everything. From top to bottom, whether you’re 42-years-old…to 20-years-old, just the chemistry between this group mixes really well and it correlates onto the ice as well.”

Image result for brandon carlo(Photo Credits: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

The time is here and Carlo (along with many that are playing in their first Playoffs) is soaking up the excitement as well as heeding advice from those core veterans. As the Colorado Springs-native explained about the mindset going into tonight:

“Just not to overthink things. You can get ahead of yourself and start to think about all the possibilities and whatnot. But they’ve done a really good job of letting us take some time away from hockey as well, and regroup as individuals mentally.”

Things have certainly changed for the Krug-Carlo pairing and both have been steady as a defensive duo, as the Bruins have been dealing with an injured Kevan Miller. Even Coach Bruce Cassidy has found ways to not break up the pair when Boston saw McAvoy suspended for a game and Chara dealing with an injury.

When it comes down to it, no one can predict the outcome of this series, which will undoubtedly be physical, but one thing’s for sure: this team will be putting everything on the line.

 

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 3: Boston at Carolina

USATSI_12703779.jpg

(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Carolina Hurricanes

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Svechnikov – Staal – Teravainen

Niederreiter – Aho – Williams

Foegele – McKegg – McGinn

Ferland – Wallmark – Maenalanen

Defense

Slavin – Hamilton

Pesce –  Faulk

Fleury –  de Haan

Goalies

McElhinney

Mrazek

First Period

Round one in PNC Arena came with high stakes for both teams. Would the Bruins go up 3-0, or would Carolina put the pressure on?

Things started off on a sour note for the Bruins, as the Canes established offensive pressure early, and Teuvo Teravainen somehow missed a wide-open Bruins net. Brandon Carlo then inadvertently gave them a power play as a result of a delay of game call. The power play came just 55 seconds into the period.

The first scrum of the game came after the first whistle on the power play as some real estate in the Bruins heads could be beneficial in making this series interesting. The Bruins killed off the power play in large part thanks to two huge saves by Tuukka Rask in front of the net at the end of the power play on Micheal Ferland and Justin Williams

Carolina’s power-play struggles continued, moving to 5 for 46 after the conclusion of their first man advantage of game three. But, the Canes definitely pushed the pace early on, and Rask stood tall.

The shots were 11-1 Canes through about six and a half minutes. That’s not what you want if you’re the Bruins. At this point, Torey Krug and Justin Williams went off on matching minor penalties, holding for Krug, roughing for Williams, 4-on-4 hockey commenced for two minutes.

The Bruins started to see some good chances come their way at the conclusion of the 4-on-4. The energy was high on both sides in the first period. The high-danger shots were there for Carolina, tasking the Bruins with limiting those going forward if they wanted any chance of winning.

A scoring chance from David Backes, a scrum, and a video review ensued around the halfway point of the period. The principal point of discussion was how the puck crossed the line, but the call stood in favor of the Canes. Shortly after, Williams ate another poop sandwich and was the only one in the penalty box after another altercation with Krug.

Just 45 seconds into the power play, Jake DeBrusk went off for slashing, creating a 4-on-4 for 1:15. That wasn’t all, as six seconds later, David Krejci made it 4-on-3 thanks to a high-sticking penalty. Even after the man advantage became a 5-on-3 for a little bit, the Canes failed to convert, and Rask looked solid again.

A big scrum ensued after another huge save from Rask, keeping with the trend, on Maenalanen. Former Minnesota Wild teammates Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter even went after it. Coyle, Krug, and Maenalanen went to the box following the scrum, Carolina came out with a 5-on-4. Stop if you’ve heard this before, Rask played awesome on the penalty kill and held the Canes scoreless.

The Krug and Williams fiasco extended into the final two minutes, as Williams intentionally went up high and Krug and sat for two as a result.

The Bruins failed to score on the man advantage before the end of the period, but had the 27 remaining seconds bled into the second period for the Bruins. Overall, it was an ugly period, with the final shots sitting at 20-6.

Here’s a visual:

Not great, despite the Bruins winning 61% of the faceoffs. I can’t imagine Bruce Cassidy was very happy with anyone in the locker room, besides Rask.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

The Bruins gave themselves and Rask a pick me up early in the second period. Joakim Nordstrom took a hit to make a play, leading to Sean Kuraly finding Chris Wagner out front to give the Bruins a one-goal lead. The goal made Wagner and Matt Grzelcyk the co-leaders in goals for the series, on both teams — just as everyone expected. Wagner’s second was assisted by Nordstrom (3) and Kuraly (2). What a shift from the fourth line.

Good fortune continued to come the Bruins’ way in the form of a Niederreiter high-sticking penalty on Krejci.

The Bruins made no mistake this time on the power play. Brad Marchand walked into the slot and backhanded on off of Calvin de Haan and in. Marchand’s sixth made it 2-0 Bruins, assisted by David Pastrnak (7) and Krejci (6). The effort level in the second period took a big leap for the Bruins. Krejci’s assist gave him his 100th career playoff point, tying him with Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk for third-most in Bruins history.

Just seven seconds before the halfway point, Backes was high-sticked by Ferland to give the Bruins another power play.

Don’t let de Haan’s goal distract you from the fact that Rask did this. But that’s one that Rask wants back. 2-1 Bruins with 6:12 to go.

This happened too.

Things went much better in more areas than not for the Bruins this time around. The final shots for the period were 18-6 Bruins in the second, moving the totals to 26-24 Carolina overall. A huge third period awaited both teams

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

This time, de Haan found his way into the spotlight for a tripping penalty 3:43 into the period. The Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into this one, with eight shots.

A point hammer from Krug found its way in, but DeBrusk made contact with McElhinney as a result of a collision with Jaccob Slavin as McElhinney was headed towards the outside of the crease. This had to have been a tough call for the officials, but they ruled in favor of the Canes. The score remained 2-1.

Make of that what you will.

The misfortune continued for the Bruins as Grzelcyk went off for interference with 14:22 to go in the period. Rask continued to make big saves and the Bruins killed off the penalty, making the Canes 0/5 on the power play.

Things were pretty back-and-forth for the rest of the period, at times. Wagner took a Justin Faulk slapshot off his hand and went to the locker room in the final three minutes of the period.

McElhinney was pulled for the extra attacker just around the two-minute mark. The final shots were 36-31 Canes, 10-7 in the period. The final tally was 35 saves for Rask in an epic showing from him, yet again. The Bruins take a three-game lead in the series in a hectic one. Next up is game four on the road again on Thursday at 8 PM ET.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

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

620-marchand

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.

Bruins Hope Rest Will Re-Awaken Top Dogs

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 1.11.03 PM

( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images )

By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

The Boston Bruins are in absolutely no position to panic or feel worried about the state of their team, and as such, neither are the fans. The unexpected truth of the series is objectively more encouraging than worrisome, and this truth is that the Bruins have outplayed the Columbus Blue Jackets, despite Boston’s best players being somewhat invisible through two games.

Ideally, the Black and Gold’s entire roster should be firing on all cylinders at this point in the spring. However, to find themselves in an even series with a second-round opponent despite getting subpar play from almost every single one of their leaders (aside from Tuukka Rask, who has been stellar), is a testament to just how good this Bruins team is and will be when they can put together a full effort.

Picking Up Slack/Depth

There are several things to smile about (from a Bruins’ perspective) when examining the facts of how the B’s have gotten to this point in the series. The first and foremost of which is the aforementioned notion that they have objectively been successful despite being without the “A-games” of their best players. Not only does this allow the mind to wander when imagining how much more effective Boston will be when things start to click, but it affords observers an opportunity to appreciate the depth that the Bruins are employing on the ice.

As depth—particularly at the forward positions—had been a prominent issue identified by management (and many a Bruins fan), it is enthralling to see that when deadline acquisitions and bottom-six forwards are playing to their capabilities, they are able to carry the load when their leaders are sluggish.

With this being said, anticipating a resurgence among the Bruins leading scorers—Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, DeBrusk—might indeed be a justified line of thinking. While most players are prone to periods of quiet play and ineffectiveness from time to time, very seldom have Bruins fans come to see the play of their leaders falter so simultaneously. As troublesome as the decline in their effectiveness has been, to expect it to continue for much longer would truly be hoping for a longshot, especially given the pedigrees of the respective Bruins’ leaders.

 

If the series has been even with the Bruins top-six forwards playing some of their worst hockey, then it would be well within reason to expect the Bruins to take control of the series with just a small improvement in the efforts of their top-scorers.

Defensively

The Bruins’ efforts defensively have somewhat mirrored the play of their forwards, though in perhaps a less salient manner. Simply, they have been unable to put together a game in which all members of their D-core are playing to their capabilities.

Aside from Brandon Carlo. He has been flat out impressive.

Game 2 saw a decent performance from most members of the Bruin’s defensive units, yet individually there are, in most cases, things to point to that highlight inconsistency. Defensively, Carlo, Clifton, and Krug played relatively mistake-free hockey.

Krug, however, “quarterbacked” a first powerplay unit that was at best underwhelming. In moments where the prowess of the powerplay (Prowerplay?! I’m so sorry…) was needed most—specifically a three-minute advantage following the surrendering of an absolute giveaway of a goal—they failed to piece together any sustained pressure or scoring opportunities. As such, an energized and motivated Columbus team seized the momentum of the man-advantage.

Zdeno Chara’s failed clear on a second-period penalty kill was costly, and (like the laughable Charlie Coyle turnover that would come later in that same period) provided Columbus with both a goal and a surge of energy they would ride throughout the rest of the game.   Charlie McAvoy’s play featured significant lapses in judgment in some of the most important moments of the game, specifically in the overtime periods. The most notable of these blunders were an ill-advised pinch which led to a high-percentage scoring chance by Jackets captain Nick Foligno, and another play in which McAvoy got WALKED (dangled, breezed, torched, take your pick) by Foligno on his way to another grade-A scoring chance. Fortunately for McAvoy, in both instances Tuukka was equal to the task*, robbing Foligno of both would-be game-winners.   *Big credit to me for not rhyming “Rask” with “task” there.

 

Albeit concerning, these faults in the performances of key members of the Bruins point to an evident truth: with some tightening of the screws, and a commitment to playing the style of hockey that made them successful all year, the Bruins should be right back in the driver’s seat of this series.

With the AUX cord. In complete control.

Rest

Columbus came into the series with much more than a week of rest. The Bruin’s entered the series with barely over one day of rest. The Bruins have outperformed a well-rested and relatively healthy Columbus team despite Boston’s tired and beaten up roster, whose best players have yet to shine in the postseason. While many might point to the idea that perhaps Columbus had “too much rest,” the effects of being out of competitive situations for so long likely wouldn’t last longer than a period or two. Quite simply, the Bruins have outplayed Columbus without once having more than a day in between games to recharge…until now.

 

The Jackets are about to get a rested Bruins team in Columbus, something they haven’t seen since Game 80 of the regular season. The Bruins won that one 6-2, by the way.

 

I’m not sure if the Columbus players or fans wear boots. But if they do, then now might be a good time to start shaking in them.