Why The Bruins Might Be Able To Sign Taylor Hall

(Photo Credit: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN / GETTY IMAGES)

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

The Bruins are en route to a massive offseason. With rumors flying that Jake DeBrusk could be a trade chip, the Bruins are checking in on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, which would likely lead to moving Brandon Carlo. All signs point to the Bruins are gearing up to make a splash on the market. Additionally, with Torey Krug’s contract negotiations being up in the air, one of the most intriguing scenarios this season would be Taylor Hall coming to Boston.

First mentioned by Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan in their ESPN article on each playoff team’s offseason, the idea of Hall to Boston is a “pipe dream.”

“Our favorite Bruins pipe dream? That Taylor Hall decides to take a page out of the NBA and chases a Cup for one season in Boston, serving as the talented left wing Sweeney has coveted in his lineup for years,” they write.

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While I understand the idea may be a “pipe dream,” as Wushynski and Kaplan describe it, there are two scenarios where this could potentially work. If Hall is willing to take a short-term, one-year deal to play for a Cup contender or he would be willing to take a mid-term deal in a higher pay range, the Bruins could feasibly be part of that conversation.

One-Year Deal Scenario

A one-year deal seems like pure insanity, but Hall put that rumor out there himself by insinuating a cup is more important to him than the money, especially during a flat-cap year. More specifically, when speaking to the media, Hall said, “Any player at this stage in their career that has had the career that I’ve had, 10 seasons, only make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs twice, that’s really what I’m after,” The 28-year-old continued to say “But yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much all winning. I don’t think the money’s going to be what it was maybe before COVID or before the season, but that’s fine. I think we get paid a lot of money to play a game, and we’ll see what happens.” There’s a lot to unpack here, including the usage of phrases like “I don’t think” and “pretty much,” but at the end of the day, if Taylor Hall is serious about going to a Cup contender, Boston could be an option.

Why a one-year deal? Hall is coming off arguably two of his worst seasons since joining the NHL ten years ago and has taken a significant slide since his 2017-2018 Heart Trophy, 93-point season. That kind of performance for a top-line scorer could lead to him wanting a gap year while the world settles down around him. If that is the case, the Bruins are in their prime to be making a final push, and Hall would undoubtedly help add that offensive upside missing from the last two seasons. The question then comes down to, would Sweeney prefer to pay Krug or Hall 7.5 – 8 million?

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Mid-Term, High Dollar Deal

The second scenario, and one I think is slightly less realistic, is a multi-year deal in the 8 million dollar range. Scott McLaughlin from WEEI puts it best, “The Bruins certainly won’t be the team that offers Hall the most years or money. But if they don’t re-sign Krug, they could potentially jump into that pool of Cup contenders who might be hoping Hall is willing to take something along the lines of five or six years worth maybe $8 million a season in order to have a real shot at winning the Cup.”

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With many teams in tight situations and the Bruins looking to potentially do something dramatic, signing Hall and letting Krug walk is a valid option. Hall could help bring down the team’s age slightly and solidify scoring on the team’s core for a few more runs at the ultimate prize.

Ultimately, if Hall’s goal is to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup high above his head, the Bruins are a legitimate team where he could do that. The value he’d bring to the table with his ability to score and his ability to allow the Bruins to shuffle lines around might be just enough for Don Sweeney to make a move.

It may all seem like a “pipe dream,” but if the Bruins are looking to make a splash in the UFA market this offseason, then they should explore this opportunity.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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!!

Should The Boston Bruins Trade Youth For Experience?

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Matt Barry | Follow Me On Twitter @oobcards

As the National Hockey League offseason approaches, The Boston Bruins seem to be at a crossroads when it comes to their roster for the 2020-21 season and beyond. General manager Don Sweeney will look to add some pieces to a squad that won the President’s Trophy as the best team in the league before the pandemic hit. When the team returned to play, a second-round exit was just around the corner, exposing some of the flaws that prevented the Bruins from reaching their ultimate goal.

First, we must consider the salary cap situation that faces Sweeney. Defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent and seeking top dollar on the open market. The Bruins have approximately fifteen million dollars available and signing Krug seems to be a long shot. The void created by Krug’s departure creates a hole on the blue line and on the power play. The Bruins are already thin on the left side defensively. In-house options for Sweeney are young defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril who have each played sparingly at the NHL level. Let’s keep in mind that the Bruins Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011 had only one defenseman younger than 27, and that was Adam McQuaid.

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Another left-shot defenseman, Zdeno Chara is approaching 44 years old and wants to return for maybe one last season with the team. The Bruins will probably sign him, but his skills have declined and he has struggled to match the speed of today’s game. Matt Grzelcyk is a restricted free agent and would be a logical choice to assume some of Krug’s responsibilities and ice time, but he is 26, and taking on a bigger role has its risks.

The 2011 team had a great mix of young talent and wily veterans. Brad Marchand was 22, Tyler Seguin was 19, and even Patrice Bergeron was only 25 years old at the time. The question for next season’s Bruins team is; Can the Bruins expect to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender by filling their needs with some of their younger, inexperienced players? Or does Sweeney go all-in for one last time to get one more ring for Bergeron, Chara, and David Krejci while mortgaging some of the future?

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Let’s consider two factors when determining how to shape the roster. The expansion draft will take place after next season, as the Seattle Kraken creates its very first roster. All teams will have to decide whether to keep eight players and one goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The team has suggested that they will choose the latter, meaning that any roster addition could be added to that group. Also, winger Jake DeBrusk is a restricted free agent along with Grzelcyk which presents a decision for the Bruins. The team would like to bring back DeBrusk, who will turn 24 years old in October, but the second-line left wing has stated that he could be seeking five million dollars per year. You would have to think that the Bruins would not want to commit quite that much salary to a fairly inconsistent player.

The options are to trade DeBrusk, Grzelcyk, or maybe even young right-shot defenseman Brandon Carlo, who will be a restricted free agent after next season. Or the Bruins could just re-sign DeBrusk and Grzelcyk now and then Carlo next offseason. The issue would be that the roster would not see much change and the cap would prevent a major free agent signing like former number one pick Taylor Hall or move for defenseman Matt Dumba from Minnesota or former Boston College star forward Johnny Gaudreau. Signing DeBrusk and Grzelcyk does not leave the team with much cap room when the next trade deadline arrives. In 2011, the Bruins relied heavily on veterans such as Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, and Gregory Campbell. Will there be Bruins prospects who can step in and play important roles on a Stanley Cup contender?

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The Bruins could also use some young players in their system for trade bait. Anders Bjork makes an affordable salary and could be traded as could restricted free agents Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn. Sweeney will have to decide if Bjork can be a factor on the third line after creating some chemistry with Charlie Coyle and if Trent Frederic can slot into a fourth-line role to replace Joakim Nordstrom who will likely not be re-signed. Look to Sweeney banking on 21-year old, rookie center Jack Studnicka to be inserted into a top-six role. If Studnicka can produce, he may be the 2020-21 version of Seguin and be a great low-cost value.

Look for the Bruins to try to sign Grzelcyk to a deal similar to Carlo’s last deal, which was a two-year bridge deal at roughly three million dollars annually. DeBrusk’s negotiations might be a little stickier. Sweeney’s hand may be forced to deal DeBrusk for a similar player who would be a little more cost-effective. I see DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins for maybe four million per year over three years. I would think that the Bruins would certainly want to move John Moore’s $2.75 million contract. Ondrej Kase might also be someone on the block as Sweeney could look to gain some draft picks while trimming salary.

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Many moving parts will happen this offseason, and Sweeney, who went to Harvard, will have to use all of his book smarts to create some roster flexibility while being mindful of the cap and upcoming expansion draft. I do not see the roster having many additions from outside the organization, as there are some intriguing options within. The management of the Bruins has been loyal to the core of this group for years, and other than the departure of Krug, I see that continuing for at least one more year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!


Bruins Would You Rather: Torey Krug Or Oliver Ekman-Larsson

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports )

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Ever since Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Bruins and Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the same breath in his latest edition of 31 thoughts, speculation has started to swirl. This has me thinking that Bruins GM Don Sweeney is scouting potential replacements for Torey Krug, if he is to test the free agent market. When it comes down to would you rather between the two blueliners, people are divided.

Both defenseman are in similar situations to an extent, and have fairly similar playing styles. They’re both excellent puck-moving, transition defensemen that are 29-years-old. While Ekman-Larsson is locked up through 2027 at $8.25 million AAV, Krug is looking for a new contract that could last around that long, and be of similar dollar value and length.

One thing that makes Ekman-Larsson’s position as a trade asset an interesting one is his NMC that lasts the entirety of his contract, while Krug is a pending unrestricted free-agent in line for a substantial payday. I’m here to make the case for either player.

Torey Krug

Bruins fans know what Torey Krug is at this point. The quarterback of the Bruins power play, and their best puck-moving defenseman. Over the past three seasons, he put up 161 points (29-132-161) in 201 regular season games. Additionally, he put up 36 points (5-31-36) in 48 playoff games. Quite the offensive resume. Playoff experience is an advantage he has that Ekman-Larsson doesn’t have much of, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be an effective playoff performer in the future.

He’s a proven, consistent contributor in Boston. For an undersized defenseman, he holds his own in the defensive zone, more often than not. This is despite what some observers choose to believe. I think the notion that he is bad in his own zone is overblown. He makes the occasional mistake, or gets overmatched by a bigger adversary in front of the net, but stuff like that happens. It’s one of the challenges of being undersized. He makes up for it with his bulldog mentality, offensive production, and power play prowess. Not every defenseman is a defensive stalwart.

The COVID-19 pause ended up putting him one point short of achieving the milestone above. The biggest area of concern regarding his future is term and dollar value on his next contract. There’s reason to expect as we’ve seen with countless players signing long-term deals in their late 20’s, that a 6+ year long deal could look ugly towards the tail end of it.

Additionally, something to consider is the fact that Krug could sign for cheaper than the $8.25 million AAV that Ekman-Larsson makes. He could also sign for more, but more likely the same amount or less. There’s plenty of reason to re-sign Krug.

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Captain of the Arizona Coyotes for the past two seasons, Ekman-Larsson boasts quite the resume himself. Finding himself at #4 on TSN’s latest trade bait list, trade speculation has come to the surface. Unlike Krug, bringing in Ekman-Larsson would require a trade, which outside of dollar value and term, makes his situation a bit different, obviously.

Acquiring Ekman-Larsson would require significant assets going the other way, while signing Krug would come down to signing on the dotted line and not giving up any assets. Ekman-Larsson has the size advantage on Krug at 6-foot-2, 201 lbs., per Elite Prospects. I think it’s fair to say he is better defensively too, not to say Krug is bad defensively, as I previously made the case that such a narrative is overblown.

What stands out to most people about him, I feel, is his offensive production and puck-moving prowess. Over the past three seasons, through 229 regular season games, he put up 116 points (37-79-116). In nine playoff games this season, he put up a goal and three assists. While not as many points as Krug, the numbers still support that he is very effective offensively. Like Krug, he also has a big role on the power play.

Wearing the “A” on his sweater for four seasons, and the “C” for the past two, Ekman-Larsson could bring valuable leadership experience to this team and it’s younger players. Also, the idea of him potentially on Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo’s left is worth getting excited about. He could be an excellent mentor for the Bruins defensive core, a lot of which are still in their early 20’s and paving their way in the NHL. In the right trade, Ekman-Larsson would be an adequate replacement for Krug if he signs elsewhere.

Video Credit: Sports Montage on YouTube

It’s going to be very interesting to see what the defensive core looks like for the Bruins next season. Will Krug return? Will Ekman-Larsson replace him via trade? Will neither player be on the team next season? Only time will tell at this point.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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!!

Big Offseason Decisions Lie Ahead For The Bruins

Torey Krug explained that his value is 'at its peak' ahead of free agency |  Boston.com
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Across the NHL, the Bruins have one of the more intriguing offseasons ahead. Primarily because they hold the fate of one of the league’s top unrestricted free agents, Torey Krug.

Krug’s decision ultimately leaves Bruins general manager Don Sweeney with a variety of options. If he stays, the Bruins retain their power play quarterback for the near future, and things are peachy. If he leaves, decisions have to be made. Do you try and trade his negotiating rights, or do just move forward and decide on what to do with the extra cap space?

The Bruins currently don’t have their first or fourth round picks. If a deal can’t be reached with Krug, Sweeney could try and deal his negotiating rights for some draft capital. Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell did this recently with UFA defenseman Joel Edmundson.

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If Krug walks in free agency, Don Sweeney is tasked with making use of that cap space. Does he add on defense, add up front, both? Oddly enough, Krug’s defensive partner, Brandon Carlo has popped up in trade rumors as of late. His name was most recently due to the Athletic’s Craig Custance’s NHL Trade Big Board, published earlier today.

Carlo is an interesting trade chip. Regardless of whether Krug re-signs or not, Carlo could be leveraged in a trade for a legitimate top-six scorer. He is set to hit restricted free agency in the summer of 2021, and holds a pretty reasonable $2.85 million cap hit at just 23-years-old. He has plenty of trade value. But, as mentioned by Custance, trading him is a bit of a longshot.

Another potential trade chip that I have mentioned in the past is Jake DeBrusk. I think the case to move DeBrusk is to upgrade at the second-line left wing position with someone like Nikolaj Ehlers, or someone else. Other than that, I don’t see much of a reason to move him. Like I have also said in the past, I’m not campaigning to trade DeBrusk, but it’s possible that he is moved.

Not many people may be thinking about pending UFA winger and blocked shot machine, Joakim Nordstrom, but he has an interesting offseason ahead of him. In a world where the Bruins have more cap space and don’t have Trent Frederic knocking at the door for NHL fourth line duty, I think Sweeney would love to keep Nordstrom around. There’s a chance he re-signs here, but it’s looking more likely that he signs elsewhere.

His relentless, bullet train style is going to make him an attractive free agent option for a team with a bad penalty kill. Nashville, Ottawa, and Detroit are a few teams that come to mind. He had an excellent postseason especially, always being one of the more noticeable players on ice, flying around and hitting everyone in sight. I anticipate a big market for him in free agency.

While there are other matters to take care of with the team, those are the big decisions to make for Sweeney, in my eyes. This is the most important offseason of his career. This veteran core isn’t going to be around forever. It’s up to Sweeney to put a team that can make some noise together for the 2020-2021 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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!!

Boston Bruins Offseason Outlook

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / AP Photo )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

The Boston Bruins surely have an interesting offseason ahead of them. After losing to the Lightning in five games, you can tell that they were just merely outplayed. But what does this mean for the team going forward?

You have people calling to trade everybody and restart from the ground up, and the overreactions are through the roof. That’s the intensity of this fanbase for you, which is a good thing. Boston is a very passionate fanbase, and they care for this team.

People forget that the Bruins won the President’s Trophy and were the only team to reach the 100-point mark in the shortened regular season. They were firing on all cylinders heading into what would’ve been the normal postseason. The hiatus in the season due to COVID-19 came at a very unfortunate time for the Bruins. Even though we didn’t see the Bruins we are used to in the Toronto bubble, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Bruins are still contenders, and they will be next year too.

( Photo Credit: Chris Christo / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald )

Let’s not kid ourselves either, though. The Bruins should make some offseason moves to bolster their roster and have a great run next year. Others seem to think that Boston will be active. “I think Boston’s going to be really interesting. I think they’ve decided they need more scoring, and I think they’re going to have some big decisions to make about what that’s going to mean for them. I think they’re definitely one of the teams to watch,” Elliotte Friedman said on SN960.

Everybody knows what the Bruins biggest problem has been over the past couple of years, and that’s secondary scoring. The Bruins goaltending duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak is one of, if not the, best in the league. The Bruins also have a great defense core mixed with veterans and young studs. Even if Torey Krug does leave this free agency period, their defense will still be great. The first line will give you what they have, but then after that is where the production falls off. I’d go as far as to say that after Jarome Iginla left, the Bruins have been itching to find David Krejci a second-line right-wing, and it hasn’t worked out so far.

The first line is most likely the best line in the whole entire league. The problem is that if other teams can shut them down, the Bruins odds of winning decrease dramatically. Tampa Bay did a great job of neutralizing Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, and the outcome of the series shows what happens when teams are able to do that.

Saying there is a lack of secondary scoring doesn’t mean that the Bruins don’t have talent below the top line. David Krejci is one of the most underrated players in the league. However, he is a playmaker, and his wingers are typically the goal scorers. Look at the 2011 Bruins team that won the cup. Milan Lucic was on Krejci’s left, and Nathan Horton was on his right, and we all know how clutch Horton was.

Now let’s compare that to their current roster. Jake Debrusk is a great player, but even Bruce Cassidy has said it. He can be streaky. That doesn’t diminish his talent, but his goal-scoring was needed. Ondrej Kase is the same way. He was flying around out there, making good plays in the corner and competing, but he wasn’t scoring. You can even say the same for Anders Bjork on the third line. The effort is there, the production was not.

Don Sweeney sure has his hands full this offseason. He has four unrestricted free agents that he’ll have to decide whether to sign or let go. Those are Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, and Kevan Miller. The three restricted free agents that most likely will return barring any trades or offer sheets are Jake Debrusk, Matt Grzelyck, and Karson Kuhlman. Sweeney has hinted at some moves this offseason. “We’re looking to make some changes in our group,” Sweeney said.

What exactly could these changes be? Who knows? We have seen Sweeney be aggressive like on draft day in 2015, but we have also seen him be more relaxed in the past couple of years. Does he take a run at a top free agent like Taylor Hall? Does he trade some of the young talent for a proven goal scorer? Only time will tell, but it gives the Bruins faithful something to be excited about.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below on 9-13-20! 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!

Who Could The Bruins Receive For Jake DeBrusk?

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Due to COVID-19, the NHL has neither increased nor decreased the salary cap, making it a flat cap. The stagnant cap number puts even more pressure on general managers to make necessary moves for future years.

The Bruins are entering the 2020 off-season with $15M in cap space. Their priority list is large needing to sign unrestricted free agents Joakim Nordstrom, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and Torey Krug and restricted free agents Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzylcek, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman.

The Black N Gold crew have written numerous articles on the Bruins’ future signings. Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Bruins relies on Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara because of the limited cap space. If Krug decides to sign elsewhere, the Bruins find themselves with more money to spend, but a sudden need to replace scoring on the blue line. If Krug decides to stay, the Bruins’ cap space is significantly smaller, making DeBrusk likely sign a bridge deal. However, if DeBrusk is unwilling to sign a bridge deal, a trade could be in his future.

If Krug were to receive a better offer elsehwhere, the Bruins’ left-handed blue line depth would deplete. The Bruins rostered left-handed defensemen include John Moore, Chara, and Grzelcyk, which will not cut it. The Bruins, however, will have at least $7M to spend on a new face.

The impending free agent defensemen class is plentiful, but not with a seamless Krug replacement. Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Barrie, and Justin Schultz round out the top three D-men on the board, but they’re all right-handed shots. T.J. Brodie and Dimitri Kulikov are available left-handed defensemen, but neither come close to matching Krug’s offensive numbers.

The limited free agent pool likely turns Don Sweeney to the trade market. A near-perfect replacement for Krug is Shea Theodore (as mentioned in a recent article). The Vegas Golden Knights’ defenseman recently signed a 7-year, $36.4M contract, which carries a $5.4M cap hit. The Bruins would pay Theodore $200K more than Krug’s current deal for the next four years. Theodore ended the year with 46 points in 71 games and would fill Krug’s shoes nicely with his offensive prowess and great vision.

Acquiring Theodore sounds like a long shot after he just re-signed to a long-term contract. However, the Knights were just bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games after failing to score consistently and could look to the trade market for scoring.

The Bruins would send DeBrusk’s rights to Vegas, which enables the Knights to re-sign the left-wing before free agency. The trade could be a one-for-one, though it’s more likely the teams would throw in draft picks, having the Bruins tossing in a mid-round selection.

Another great Krug replacement is Oscar Klefbom out of Edmonton. Klefbom is a former first-round pick who’s had an up and down career with the Oilers. The 27-year old left-handed defenseman has two years remaining on his 7-year, $29M contract that carries a $4.167M cap hit. He ended the year with 34 points, which is four points shy of his career-high. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by a few injures the past three years, but a change of scenery could help the young blueliner reshape his game.

The Oilers badly need a dynamic winger for their superstar Connor McDavid. McDavid would welcome DeBrusk with open arms if the Bruins were to strike a deal. The Oilers have $10.5M in cap space and can certainty afford DeBrusk’s next contract. Again, draft picks would be part of the agreement and maybe even AHL prospects.

Now let’s switch gears and assume Torey Krug and the Bruins agree on a contract that leaves the Bruins with $8M cap space, and DeBrusk is not willing to sign a bridge deal. The remaining money split between Zdeno Chara and Grzelcyk leaves the Bruins with approximately $4M in cap space. The Bruins need for a left-handed defenseman is no longer as imperative, and Sweeney could set his sights on another need: consistent wing scoring.

There have been some discussions that the Winnipeg Jets are willing to trade Patrick Laine. He was the second overall draft choice in 2016 and had a cap hit of $6.75M. He is a restricted free agent, and has been in his coach’s doghouse too often this past season.

There’s a presumption the Jets are listening to offers, and the Bruins should most certainly inquire. However, the Jets will expect AT LEAST a first-round draft selection (which the Bruins don’t have until 2021), a top prospect (John Beecher, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen), and a top-nine forward (Jake DeBrusk, Ondrej Kase).

The Bruins may be able to sell the Jets on David Krejci for Laine, along with other assets, of course. The former 70-point right-winger would undoubtedly make the Bruins a tough team to beat and alleviate the top line’s pressure to create all the scoring opportunities. It’s a mystery whether Sweeney would even entertain the the steep price tag to pry Laine from Winnipeg.

The other side of the coin is Patrick’s contract. Laine will want a contract north of his previous 2-year, $13.5M deal. The Bruins can afford that if they trade out players who own more massive cap hits, like David Krejci. They could undoubtedly trade John Moore and try to scrape away at the cap ceiling, but it’s more likely they’ll have to rid themselves of a larger contract to squeeze under the cap.

The Bruins could also walk away from signing Krug and make the deal for Laine, but that leaves a giant hole on the blue-line. Keeping Krug almost definitively puts them out of the running for a player of Laine’s caliber. Sweeney needs the future cap space, mainly if the salary cap stays flat in the coming years.

One trade target the Bruins have a reasoanle shot at acquiring for DeBrusk is Anthony Mantha. The Detroit Red Wings had the worst record in the NHL last season and robbed of the first overall pick. They have $34M in cap space and can certainly afford whatever number DeBrusk has in mind. Mantha is also a restricted free agent and a former first-round draft choice. He is a behemoth left-wing at 6’5, 234 pounds, and has breakaway speed. He ended last season on the Wings first line but would almost certainly play on the Bruins second or third line.

Mantha is coming off of his rookie deal of 3-years, $2.77M. DeBrusk and Mantha have had comparable point totals in the past three seasons: DeBrusk netting 120 points in 203 games and Mantha with 134 in 190 games. Mantha has more points in fewer games, making him an enticing option.

The Wings require a profound identity change and a fresh start. They’ve fallen to the bottom of the standings dramatically and could use a jump start from a new face, who learned from some of the game’s best leaders, and who’s performed deep into the playoffs. The Bruins could send DeBrusk and a mid-round draft choice or prospect in exchange for Mantha and a low-round draft choice.

Another potential trade target for Jake DeBrusk is Minnesota’s, Kevin Fiala. Fiala was also a former first-round draft selection in 2014 by the Nashville Predators. Fiala had a tough time finding his game in Nashville, only playing 204 games and scoring 97 points. The Swiss forward was traded to Minnesota for Mikael Granlund last season. Fiala has one year left on his 2-year, $6M contract and will still be a restricted free agent.

The change of scenery benefited the 24-year old. Fiala potted 67 points in 83 career games with the Wild. He scored 23 goals last season and has participated on the Wild’s first power-play unit.

So why would the Wild give up a player they just acquired? The Minnesota Wild hired Paul Fenton (former Predator Assistant GM) in 2018, which was viewed as a great hire around the NHL. Fenton acquired Fiala after overseeing his development in Nashville. A surprise move a year later, the Wild fired Fenton after finishing fifth in the wild card standings.
The Wild hired former Dallas Stars great, Bill Guerin, within a month of firing Fenton. Wild’s ownership created an environment where mediocrity is not going to cut it, putting even more pressure on Geurin.

The Wild snuck into the Return to Play pool only to be eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Guerin needs to show his ownership he has a plan to further this team’s future, and making a trade for a player like DeBrusk would benefit both parties. The Wild could make DeBrusk their number one left-wing and sign him for the next five to six years and genuinely integrate himself as a mainstay.

Thankfully for the Bruins, Fiala’s cap hit is significantly lower than what DeBrusk has asked for, and the Bruins can afford him, barring a salary dump of John Moore. They’ve also had a great trade rapport with the Wild when they acquired Charlie Coyle two seasons ago. Fiala would make for a great second-line winger and a power-play beneficiary.

The Bruins would ask for a bit more in return than Fiala’s return, such as a mid-round draft choice or prospect. The move delays the contract conversation one more year, but it would allow the Bruins a bit more flexibility without shelling out two large contracts this off-season.

It’s no surprise that Sweeney has his work cut out for him each year because that is what it takes to avoid a mid-league finish in the standings. There may be one or two moves Sweeney makes that will shock the NHL, and it’s necessary. The Tampa Bay Lightning outmatched the Bruins in a 4-1 series victory, and their size and inconsistent scoring played a significant role. If the Bruins want to keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning for years to come, the time to make the moves is now.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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 Potential Curtain Call For The Boston Captain

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Bob Ferns | Follow Me On Twitter @bob_ferns

Zdeno Chara is not considering retirement.

“I feel strong physically. I’m positive, and I believe I can still play this game and contribute to the team. I want to stay in Boston. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences with the younger players. That hasn’t changed. I’m committed. We’ll see what’s going to happen next.”

Chara has been a tremendous captain for 14 years in the spoked B. During that time, the Bruins have had a run of success that hasn’t been seen in Boston since the heyday of the 70’s Big Bad Bruins. Still, as they say, time is undefeated, and all athletes eventually have to face their own decline as they age.

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At 44, big Z is not the seven-time all-star and Norris trophy winning player anymore. There is no doubt that his play has issues that are hard to ignore. Coming back from the layoff, Chara’s age showed in the playoff bubble. Z was a shell of the dominant force he once was. Still, the Bruins Captain has the ability to be an effective shutdown penalty-killing Defenseman. He did block 21 shots in the playoffs, and his leadership is unquestioned.

The question for Bruins GM Don Sweeney is at what price and what cost does re-signing Chara make sense? Sweeney addressed the Chara situation at his end of the year presser. “I respect Zdeno’s comments, he always been an iconic player for us, an important player for us, and we’re going to explore opportunities with he and other players that have either UFA or RFA status and hopefully check off the boxes like we have with several other players and continue to move forward and improve our hockey club and addressing Zdeno’s contractual situation is part of that process.”

Well those comments were certainly no guarantee of a contract for Z.

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The price: Chara played last year on a team-friendly $2 million contract that made him an excellent bargain. The thinking here is that he would accept the same deal (or perhaps less with bonus incentives) for one last run at another cup. 

The cost: While we’ve established the dollar figure to re-up the captain, what is the actual price for the Bruins? An argument can be made that it’s time for the Bruins to open opportunities to younger defensemen in the organization. The LHD depth will take a hit with Torey Krug almost certainly lost to free agency. Bruins will also need to spend to keep RFA Matt Grzelcyk on their blue line, perhaps paired with Charlie McAvoy.

The replacement prospects:

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press/Associated Press)

Jeremy Lauzon is a physical 6’1” 205-pound left handed defenseman and 23-year-old who was so impressive during his limited time during the regular season he earned a two-year extension. Lauzon struggled in the playoff bubble and was eventually replaced by Connor Clifton and even John Moore. Still, the ceiling on Lauzon is high, and he should be a lock to make the top 6 next year.

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

Left-handed defenseman Uhro Vaakanainen is a 21-year-old first rd pick (18th overall) in 2017 and has been rising up the ranks within the B’s organization. A small step back last year, but if not for the current depth of the Bruins, may have already become a regular NHL contributor.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

And then there’s Jakob Zboril, another left-handed defenseman. The 23-year-old Zboril was a controversial pick, as were the other two first-rounders for the Bruins (Zach Senysyhn and Jake DeBrusk) when he was taken 13th overall in the 2015 draft. His development has been just as controversial as both Lauzon and Vaakanian have surpassed him as prospects.

Prediction:

The Bruins may decide to move on from Zdeno, but given the history and willingness by Z to stay, the prediction is Chara resigning for a one-year $1.5 million contract with incentives.

Grzelcyk has re-upped on a two-year deal. Vaakanainen and Lauzon both make the club as 6/7 defensemen. Zboril is a tendered RFA and continues to season in Providence but will need a new contract if Boston wants to keep him in the fold. Also, important to know that when Zboril returns to North America after being loaned to an organization overseas, he’ll need to be placed on waivers for the purpose of AHL Providence placement.  

One more run at a cup for Big Z with Bruins.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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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Question Marks Surround Left Side Of Bruins’ Second Defense Pair

(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

With the Boston Bruins’ President’s Trophy-winning 2019-20 season now over, general manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston brass head into the offseason with several question marks looming over the roster. How will management address the lack of depth scoring (again)? What will happen with the team’s restricted free agents? Or perhaps the most pressing question that snuck up on the Bruins: what will the left side of defense look like next season?

Admittedly, I did not have the foresight to take a look at the Bruins’ situation down the left side on the backend until recently. Prior to the pandemic, I had thought there would be no way that Boston would let Torey Krug walk or that Zdeno Chara would be without a contract heading into next season. Yet here we are — all signs point to Krug leaving to sign a big ticket elsewhere, and although Chara wants to return, he is still on the brink of unrestricted free agency.

In the most likely scenario, in my opinion, Krug walks and Chara re-signs at a reasonable cap hit and short term. If that is the case, Boston is still left with a gaping hole in the team’s top four at even-strength.

For context with some incoming advanced stats, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Corsi basically measures how much a player’s team controls the puck when they are on the ice, and anything below 45% is generally considered to be below average, while anything above 55% is typically seen as elite.

Chara still has value in a limited role. Sure, his even-strength numbers have dipped in recent season – the 43-year-old sported a Corsi-for (CF%) of 46.7% at even-strength during the regular season (down from 53.8% during the 2018-19 season), and a CF% of 36.8% during the playoffs this season (down from 40.4% during last year’s postseason). However, the big man can still provide value on the penalty kill – he was and still is Boston’s biggest workhorse on the kill – in a limited even-strength role, and in the room, of course.

What does this limited role for Chara look like? Presumably, it would be on the third pair next to a guy like Connor Clifton or Jeremy Lauzon. That leaves spots up for the taking on the second pair to Brandon Carlo’s left and on the top pair next to Charlie McAvoy.

Matt Grzelcyk seems like the clubhouse favorite to slot in next to McAvoy up top as of right now; the pair excelled in two years together at Boston University and have looked good together in a small sample size in the NHL. When together, the two boasted an insane CF% of 59.06% at five-on-five play, during this year’s playoffs, and a CF% of 59.69% at even-strength over the last three regular seasons. In short, when together McAvoy and  Grzelcyk are possession monsters for the Bruins, and with more high-end minutes with guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, analytics darlings in their own rights, on the ice with them they should only flourish even more.

This all leaves Carlo without a defense partner on the second pair. While the Bruins have in-house options that might step up in Urho Vaakanainen, Lauzon, or Jakub Zboril, it remains to be seen if those guys would be ready to leap into such a key role. Lauzon proved that he is NHL-ready this season as he assumed a role on the bottom pair next to Grzelcyk during the second half of the season, and excelled for the most part, especially with his physicality, mobility and intensity.

Meanwhile, Zboril has slowly, but steadily, progressed in Providence over the last few seasons. P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach mentioned that the 23-year-old was “probably” the team’s best defenseman by the end of the year, and was one of the last cuts from Boston’s training camp before the season after having an excellent showing. He’s got some sandpaper to his game and can move the puck well; however, consistency is an issue, aside from whether or not he can make the jump. Another snag is that the left-shot d-man has been loaned to HC Kometa Brno in his native Czech Republic as a timeline for next season in both the AHL and NHL is unclear.

Looking at Vaakanainen, there is no question about the promise in his game, from the skating ability to the intelligence. In a very small sample size in the NHL, he did not look out of place. Again, the only concern with Vaakanainen, and Zboril, is whether or not a full-time leap to the NHL is in the cards this season. For Lauzon, the question is if he can shoulder the extra responsibility and tougher defensive matchups.

The Bruins may even be able to look to external options via free agency depending on how much cash is leftover from the re-signing period, whenever that happens. After a quick visit to CapFriendly to look at defensemen set to hit the UFA market, options like T.J. Brodie, Joel Edmundson, Erik Gustaffson, and Brenden Dillon stand out.

Who knows, maybe if, or when, training camp rolls around, one of the young defensemen is poised to seize the apparently open roster spot, impresses, and makes the team out of camp. Or perhaps the Bruins land a free agent that can plug the hole. Until then, all we can do is speculate about how the left side, especially on the second pair, will be addressed.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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 Future of Boston’s Left-Handed Defensemen

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Tampa Bay Lightning sent the Boston Bruins home early, leaving all of us wondering what the future will hold. After each team’s playoff exit, conferences are held to detail each player’s injuries and each player’s future. Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are unrestricted free agents and could find themselves in different jerseys come next season.

Torey Krug has stated the type of deal he is seeking but is open to a hometown discount. Chara is 43 years old and has recently announced he wants to play another year and prefers it to be in Boston.

Naturally, Bruins’s twitter exploded with scenarios and everyone’s thoughts on Boston’s two players’ futures. I created a twitter poll for Bruins fans to give their take on what they want next season.

The first selection of keeping both defensemen seemed to be the prevailing choice, but Krug’s price tag scares Bruins fans. We will dive into each scenario and explain the repercussions that they would have on the team.

Keeping both Chara and Krug would require both players to sacrifice the money they’d make on the open market. Torey Krug reportedly is seeking $8M per-year over a 6-7-year timeframe. The Bruins have $15M in cap space after re-signing Anders Bjork to an extension last month. The Bruins need the remaining cap space to sign restricted free-agents, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk, and unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom.

If the Bruins want a chance to sign most of these players, The Bruins cannot afford Krug’s $8M per year salary. His last deal was worth $5.25M per year, which means he will take no less than $6M per year in his next contract.

Bruins management, mainly General Manager Don Sweeney, has created an environment where his star players make below fair market value because they have bought into a certain mentality. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Berergon have a combined average annual value (“AAV”) of $19.7M, resulting in impeccable signings.

These deals have given Bruins fans skewed visions into players’ values because there is a sense that incoming and roster players shouldn’t make more than their beloved players. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some players, especially given their recent contracts.

Krug will receive at least $7M on the open market, which would put him as the highest salaried defenseman, and tied for second-highest salary on the team, only behind David Krejci. Krug has stated he is open to a hometown discount but doesn’t want to cut himself too short, which is exceptionally reasonable. If the Bruins and Krug can agree on $6.75M over the next five years, both sides would benefit. Krug would increase his AAV by $1.5M, and the Bruins still have enough salary cap to fit in their remaining players.

If the Bruins sign Krug to this deal, they would have $8.25M remaining to re-sign their 14-year captain to another team-friendly deal. Chara has made close to $100M in his 23-year career and is coming off a 1-year, $3.75M deal, with a cap hit of $2M. The rest of the money’s embedded in player bonuses.

The Bruins could re-sign Chara for another 1-year, $1.5M-$2M deal, which would be immense for both sides. The Bruins would be retaining the Hall of Fame defenseman for another year to mentor young defensemen vying for a spot and play on the third pairing and penalty kill situations.

Chara has had an incredibly fruitful career, especially in a Bruins uniform. He is a one-time Stanley Cup champion and former Norris Trophy winner. He will undoubtedly be an NHL Hall of Famer and likely have his number retired with the Bruins.

Big Z is getting older and can still be an incredible force on the ice, especially if he plays 18-19 minutes per game. It is time to pass the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but that doesn’t mean Chara should retire. He still adds tremendous value to the organization and can always be a factor game in and game out.

If the Bruins offer Chara this contract and Krug’s discounted deal, they would have approximately $6.5M remaining to re-sign Grzelcyk, Nordstrom, and DeBrusk. $6.5M would be tight to re-sign these players, mostly since DeBrusk’s agent has gone on record saying his client wants $6M per year. The Bruins could offer DeBrusk a bridge deal and Grzelcyk around $2M per year, leaving a little over $1M for Nordstrom. Even this scenario makes their cap situation tight, meaning Sweeney may have to make a few difficult decisions if he wants to retain Krug and Chara.

The second option in the poll has the Bruins retaining just the captain, which received 39% of the votes, making it the most popular selection. Fans who want to keep just Chara are more than likely unwilling to pay Krug the money he seeks. The $7M plus price tag would alleviate Don Sweeney’s hand in making difficult decisions. Black N Gold writer, Andrew Lindroth, recently posted an article about the potential replacements for Krug.

A few names Andrew did not mention that the Bruins could target in free agency are Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie (both from Calgary), and Tyson Barrie (Toronto Maple Leafs). The latter two have similar cap hits to Krug’s expiring one, while Hamonic would be significantly cheaper.

Krug’s departure would allow the Bruins to develop their young defenseman. Charlie McAvoy and Grzelcyk could round out the top pairing, Carlo and a prospect for the second line, and Chara and Connor Clifton as the third pairing. The Bruins power-play would look a little different next year but wouldn’t suffer much.

Charlie McAvoy is the Bruins number one defenseman for years to come, and he has shown he’s capable of handling power-play one duty. Matt Grzelcyk could take over power-play two responsibilities and is a similar player to Krug. He is not as offensively gifted but makes up for it in other areas.

Krug’s departure would net Don Sweeney, one of the largest cap situations, without signing roster mainstays. It would be too enticing to see what Sweeney would do with the money.

The third selection in the poll, which keeps just Krug, received 14% of the votes, making it the least popular option. In this scenario, the Bruins would be walking away from greatness to develop young defensemen. Chara has stated he wants to retire as a Bruin, and the move would only save about $2M on the books.

The Bruins defensive pairings would be significantly smaller in size. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense created havoc for the Bruins because of their size and strength. The Bruins need both attributes if they want to compete in their division, and the answer is not in John Moore, who could attain a roster spot if Chara walks.

The final selection received 19% of the votes and would result in both defensemen walking. If both Krug and Chara were to play on different teams next year, the Bruins would have a ton of money to use. However, their left-handed defensemen’s depth would suffer, and the Bruins would need to make quick bids to impending free agents.

The free-agent pool has very few left-handed shot defensemen. T.J. Brodie is the only left-handed shot defenseman of the group above. Joel Edmundson of the Carolina Hurricanes is also available, but given the capital, the Hurricanes spent on him, it’s unlikely he leaves Carolina.

The Bruins could also look to the trade market to replace one, if not both. A near-perfect replacement for Krug would be Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. The 25-year old is a left-handed defenseman with a cap hit of $5.2M for the next five years. He’s increased his point total every year since he began in 2015. The Bruins would need to concoct a sweet deal for the Knights to agree by including Jake DeBrusk’s rights and a mid-round draft selection.

Another potential trade target is Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom, who is a former first-round selection. He has a $4.167M cap hit for the next three years and has had an up-and-down career with the Oilers. Granted, the Oilers have had inconsistent years, but Klefbom could benefit from a change in scenery. His career-high point total is 38, and he has power-play experience. The Oilers could ask for DeBrusk’s rights or a sign-and-trade with Krug. Connor McDavid would be quite pleased with either.

If the Bruins can’t strike a deal or sign a free agent, the Bruins would only have John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk as their NHL-ready left-handed shot defensemen. John Moore was scratched most of the playoffs and only played in 24 games this past season. The Bruins have left-handed defensemen in their system, but only one is NHL-ready.

Jakub Zboril is likely heading overseas next season with the AHL’s season in question. Nick Wolff and Jack Ahcan have yet to play in the AHL, which making them unlikely candidates for the NHL roster. Urho Vaakanainen is the final left-handed shot defensemen in the system. The 21-year old Finn was drafted 18th overall in 2017. He’s played seven games in two years for the Bruins, spending most of his time in Providence. Black N Gold’s writer, Tim Richardson, detailed Urho’s past season in the AHL. Tim regards Urho as “an elite stay-at-home defenseman” who should have a spot on the Bruins roster quite soon.

Don Sweeney has addressed the Krug situation but is unwilling to comment on the details.

It’s normal business practice to hold off on contract negotiations until the season is over. Though, it’s a bit concerning because Sweeney isn’t speaking like a man who is confident the player will stay. It’s possible the Bruins and Krug can strike a deal soon, but Krug would almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season if he tests free agency. Bruins management may have told Krug he can see his worth and come back to them to see for the Bruins to potentially match an offer.

Allowing the two defensemen to leave is the worst choice in the poll. The Bruins don’t seem to have a plausible plan in place for the two key departures, and it opens the doors to a “wait and see” approach. There would be too many items in play with this choice, and there’s not enough time given the prolonged playoffs.

Before the poll, the most logical choice was keeping Chara and Krug. The Bruins could have another go with the aging core. Now that the survey has ended, it seems each day the Bruins are heading towards keeping just Chara. Sweeney has acknowledged the Bruins lacked five v five scoring against Tampa Bay, which isn’t all on the defensemen. The forwards are just as much to blame, but Sweeney could use the cap space with Krug’s departure to acquire a goal-scorer. NHL teams are allowed to make trades with one another if they’re not currently in the playoffs, and the free agency period is a month away. It seems Sweeney is willing to make a deal even if it changes the makeup of the team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Strategies for Game Five: How The Bruins Can Come Out On Top

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

The Bruins have found themselves in a 3-1 hole in their playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Digging themselves out of it will be a difficult process, but it certainly isn’t impossible for the President’s Trophy winners. Some of the most important things are to play confidently and for the players to rely on their teammates rather than trying to do too much individually. Besides the obvious (scoring more goals than your opponent), here are a few strategies that the Bruins will need to employ if they want to push this series to six or seven games.

Back to Basics

It’s a cliche, but it’s repeated by every player and coach for a reason: get pucks to the net. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is incredibly talented and even won a Vezina trophy in 2019, but it won’t necessarily take the perfect shot to beat him. A lucky bounce or a perfect tip-in can only happen if the Bruins aren’t afraid to shoot from a distance. Bruins defensemen have accounted for ten or fewer shots in every game this series, with Torey Krug leading the way having registered a total of eight (including five on Saturday). The Bruins blue line has also contributed just two goals since the playoffs began (McAvoy and Clifton have one each).

Play Physical, But Smart

Boston acquired Nick Ritchie at the trade deadline in an attempt to beef up the forward group. Unfortunately, Ritchie’s major contribution in Game Four was a major penalty after a hit on Yanni Gourde that resulted in a power play goal for Tampa. If Ritchie does play tonight (he is a game-time decision according to coach Bruce Cassidy), he’ll need to find a balance that allows him to play hard but clean.

Hits and even fights are one way to slow down Tampa’s forwards and push the momentum to the Bruins’ side. Players like Ritchie, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, and Connor Clifton aren’t afraid to get physical in an attempt to get under opponents’ skin. Goading the Lightning into taking penalties when they’re frustrated is something that the Bruins can capitalize on.

Special Teams

With penalties come power plays. If the last strategy works out and a player on Tampa is sent to the box, the Bruins need the power play to make a difference. David Pastrnak is the greatest weapon in the arsenal, with a lethal one-timer that goalies can’t seem to stop even when they see it coming. If the Bruins can secure an early man-advantage, setting Pastrnak up for a goal to give the Bruins the lead is a huge step towards a win. Boston has scored the first goal just twice this series: in their Game One win and their Game Two overtime loss. These two games were also the only ones in which the Bruins scored multiple goals.

So, scoring first is crucial. Playing with the lead is what worked in Game One, with Boston holding strong even as Tampa put the pressure on late. They will definitely want to come out strong and set the pace early to show the Lightning that they mean business.

Overall, it will be a difficult battle. Tampa is a strong team with a recent history of making it to the conference final. This Bruins team still has a lot of fight left, though. It remains to be seen if it will be enough to extend this series to six games. Fans are hoping it won’t be a repeat of 2018’s 4-1 defeat.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below on 8-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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!