Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Having MVP Caliber Postseason

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes

( Photo Credit: CBSSports.com )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Star Power, Consistency Amongst Keys To Bruins Defeating Carolina

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(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Last time I wrote an article like this, it was about a more grueling type of series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although this wasn’t an easy series for the Bruins, despite winning it in a four-game sweep over the Carolina Hurricanes, this series had a different feel to it.

I won’t pinpoint every reason why they won the series because praise can go all around, but here are some of the main things that led to the team’s triumph as a whole, with a shot at the Stanley Cup on their minds.

Tuukka Rask is still really good

The list goes on for Rask. Bruce Cassidy even spoke to his focus and the zone he is in after last night’s series-clinching win in game four. The man is locked in. Letting up just five goals to the Canes all series, and stopping 109 of 114 shots had a massive influence on the team’s success. It’s comforting to play in front of a goalie that is playing out of his mind, and Rask surely is.

Team defense has been spectacular

The Bruins have won their last seven playoff games, and have outscored their opponents 29-8 in that span. Eight goals in seven games, that’s mind-boggling. I’m sure Rask would be the first one to tell you that the team defense in front of him as of late has been phenomenal.

Even in the absences of Charlie McAvoy in game one, and Zdeno Chara in game four, the overall defensive structure was pretty rock solid. That speaks to the depth and determination of this group. Rask provided a little more clarity from his perspective after the game last night, he gets into it around the 45-second mark of the video below.

Prowess and on the penalty kill and power play

Carolina’s power play was ineffective against the Bruins, and credit there goes back to Rask, again, and the penalty killing units in front of him. The Canes were 1/14 on the power play against the Bruins, with the lone goal coming three minutes and 42 seconds into the first period of game one.

On the other side of things, the Bruins were 7/15 (46.6%) on the power play. A huge reason as to why they were so successful on the man advantage was the simplicity of the puck movement and shot selection. They were calm and moved the puck efficiently. Their power play struggles when they are not doing those things, which we have seen previously in this playoff run.

The first two goals of game four were on the power play, making it, so Carolina had to play from behind with their backs already up against the wall. Special teams were a serious difference maker.

The top line showed up big-time

Most recently, the top line showed up on each of the four goals in the Bruins’ game four win last night, as shown in the videos above. The top line took some criticism earlier in the playoffs, saw some line juggling take place, and then they responded in a big way.

Game four stats:

Patrice Bergeron: 2G, 1A

Brad Marchand: 1G, 1A

David Pastrnak: 1G, 2A

That helps. One cannot overstate their importance, because the Bruins literally wouldn’t have won the game without them and Rask last night. The top line combined for six goals and eight assists in four games against Carolina, bringing their combined playoff totals to 22 goals and 24 assists in 51 games. That’s really good, can confirm.

Players stepping up in the absences of teammates

First, it was McAvoy in game one. Steven Kampfer slotted in due to McAvoy’s one-game suspension, and even scored the first goal of the series, in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game — and he did it just 2:55 into the first period. What a way to insert yourself into the lineup to fill the shoes of a top line defender in McAvoy.

Chris Wagner and Zdeno Chara were out of the lineup last night, Wagner with a hand/wrist injury due to a blocked shot in game three, and Chara with an undisclosed injury. Noel Acciari and John Moore slotted in due to their absences, and both played solid games last night in one of the team’s better overall performances in the whole postseason, as said by Cassidy after the game.

Sometimes things like that happen, and you need guys to step up, and Kampfer, Acciari, and Moore did when their names were called. The team as a whole was consistently good throughout the majority of the series, and the ‘next man up’ mentality can be credited for that, in part.

Now, the Bruins await the fates of the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks, who square off in game four of the Western Conference Finals tonight. San Jose currently leads the series 2-1. Whoever the opponent is, the Bruins now have some time to decompress until the Stanley Cup Finals roll around.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 4: Boston at Carolina

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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

A trip to the Stanley Cup Finals is on the line for the Boston Bruins tonight in Game Four of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Due in part to the terrific play of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins possess a 3-0 series lead on Carolina and look to close the show here tonight.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: PNC Arena – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Home: Carolina Hurricanes (8-6)

Away: Boston Bruins: (11-5)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 2-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara is not in the lineup for Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Matt Grzelcyk moves up to replace him alongside Charlie McAvoy and John Moore comes into the lineup beside Connor Clifton on the third pairing. Tuukka Rask will be, without previous doubt, the starting goalie for Boston. For the second consecutive game, Curtis McElhinney will start for the Canes.

First Period:

Starting off right away, just over a minute into the game, Matt Grzelcyk gets his stick caught in the skates of a Hurricane forward, resulting in a two-minute minor. Boston’s penalty-kill, even without Chara, did a great job preventing zone entries and even got a shorthanded bid with a Joakim Nordstrom partial breakaway that gets stopped by McElhinney. Penalty killed off successfully.

Early on, Carolina’s shot attempts came often from the point. The Bruins were being fearless on a lot of these shots, getting their bodies in front of the puck and making sure Rask didn’t have to see anything. Good start defensively by the Black and Gold here.

Just around 12 minutes to go, the Bruins get the best chance of the game so far. Brad Marchand’s missed pass goes right to Charlie McAvoy who blasts one to the net. The shot creates a large rebound that goes to Bergeron and then to Marchand again. Marchand’s quick wrister gets gloved by an extended McElhinney.

In a tightly-contested opening frame, the Hurricanes go the penalty box for the first time in Game Four, a slashing call against Nino Niederreiter on Brad Marchand. Marchand may have helped the call by dropping his stick, but there was a clear slash on his hands. Regardless, Boston off to power-play for the first time tonight.

Boston had some really great chances to bury one on the power-play. The best chance came with less than a minute remaining on the man-advantage. Somehow, Patrice Bergeron is wide open in the slot with the puck. Instead of shooting, he fakes the shot and feeds it to Pastrnak who tried to pass him the puck right back but McElhinney’s diving stop prevents it from entering a gaping net.

Charlie Coyle gets whistled down on a weak “interference” call, ending the power-play and forcing the game to briefly go to 4-on-4, followed by a shorter man-advantage for the Canes. Thanks to some solid saves from none other than Tuukka Rask, Boston kills off that call and we return to 5-on-5.

Boston’s top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak get many opportunities to strike in the opening frame but all too often make an extra, unnecessary pass and the play is dissolved from there. More shots on net and the Bruins could very well be up 2-0 here. Nonetheless, we are scoreless after the first twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 10 CAR: 13

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Five minutes into the middle period, the Hurricanes appear to be controlling the play more than Boston. The B’s failed to get the puck out of the zone on numerous attempts and the Canes returned with shots off the rush. However, the Hurricanes get caught with six skaters on the ice at the same time and now face a minor penalty for too-many-men.

On Boston’s second man-advantage of the night, Brad Marchand races into the zone with his head up the entire time, tossing a lead pass for a reaching David Pastrnak and the Bruins get on the board first. McElhinney was convinced that Marchand was going to rip the shot and that expectancy resulted in him being slightly out of position for Pastrnak’s deflection.

Carolina’s edge that they possessed early in the frame was not as evident after the Bruins tally. Boston has had a lot more zone entries and scoring threats on the ice compared to the Canes. The frustration of the Hurricanes may be rising too, as captain Justin Williams shows frustration on a close icing call that he lost. His frustration levels have been on display all series long and he has continually said that he needs to be better. That seems to still be a work in progress.

Late in the period, Carolina has the best zone control of the game by far, passing the puck around the offensive zone but not a single shot made it’s way to Tuukka Rask. The fourth line of Nordstrom, Kuraly and Acciari were on the ice for a really long time and Carolina had their best chance to equal the score. Torey Krug was on the ice for a remarkable 2:57 and Carlo for 2:48.

Greg McKegg takes a hard rush into the zone with the exhausted Krug still on the ice, but the mobile defenceman pokes the puck before it gets to Rask. The cut from McKegg leads to him colliding with Rask in the head and he gets penalized with goaltender interference. On the ensuing power-play, Pastrnak and Bergeron exchange a beautiful give-and-go passing play to strike again, 2-0 Boston. That goal is the 17th goal on the man-advantage throughout the 2018-19 postseason for the B’s.

With that, the second period ends and the Boston Bruins are twenty minutes away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 CAR: 18 (8-4 BOS in 2nd)

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (7) PPG Assists: Marchand (11), Krug (11); Bergeron (7) PPG Assist: Pastrnak (7)

Third Period:

It is quite clear that with a two-goal lead in a possible elimination game for Boston, they are willing to play a defensive final regulation period to close this thing out. Nearly eight minutes in, neither team had a single shot on net. Carolina has taken numerous shots, although, all of their shots are coming from the point and are getting blocked or deflected wide by the bodies in front of Rask.

The best defensive forward in the National Hockey League, Patrice Bergeron creates a scramble in front of McElhinney off of a brilliant forechecking effort, stealing it from the Hurricanes defender and tossing the puck into the slot where Pastrnak hung around. The shot didn’t reach the Carolina goalie, but definitely causes frustration for Carolina.

Just past the halfway mark of the period, the Bruins know that another goal could spell the end of Carolina. With that said, the Bruins stay ferocious on the forecheck, forcing a Carolina turnover in their defensive zone, passing the puck directly to David Pastrnak who makes a clean pass over to Patrice Bergeron for his second of the game, extending Boston’s lead to three.

Justin Williams was visibly upset at the goal, as he felt that the Bruins had iced the puck just seconds before the turnover. However, the replay shows that the puck bounced off of Pastrnak’s stick after he crossed the red line meaning no icing would have been called. In addition, the linesman was right by Pastrnak and he waived off the icing. Just another case of Williams showing frustration after the goal.

Carolina’s Head Coach, Rod Brind’Amour pulled McElhinney with over five minutes left to go and following too many whistles for many different reasons, Brad Marchand races down the ice to bury the empty-net goal, 4-0 Bruins. The Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2013.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 CAR: 24

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 21 Saves, Shutout

2nd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 6 Shots, 16:42 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots

For the 20th time in franchise history, the Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins are Eastern Conference Champions.

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

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(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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 2: Carolina at Boston: 5/12/19

5SPR6NJXUZGTBA6SDF7ELNNFPAPhoto Courtesy Of MassLive.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (9-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-4)

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

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The game got off to a hard hitting start as Micheal Ferland had a big hit on Matt Grzelcyk in the early going. The Hurricanes had a solid start to the game with a few chances against Tuukka Rask but the goaltender stood tall. The Bruins had trouble in the opening minutes with turnovers but the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage. The Bruins began to find a rhythm in the offensive zone after a flurry of chances by the Bergeron line. The Hurricanes continued to be physical from the start as it seemed to be their game plan for Game 2.

Carolina would pick up the first power play of the game as Zdeno Chara went to the box for tripping with about eight minutes remaining in the period. The Bruins killed off the penalty despite the Hurricanes solid puck movement on the man advantage. After a slick feed from Marcus Johansson, Grzelcyk slipped a wrist shot past Petr Mrazek to give the Bruins the late first period lead.

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The Bruins seemed to get a jolt from the goal as they looked to be a lot more comfortable especially in their own zone. Boston would pick up their first power play late in the period as Justin Williams went to the box. Jake DeBrusk made it 2-0 just six seconds into the man advantage as he buried a rebound in front.

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Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go back to the penalty kill just over a minute into the second period as Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping. The B’s would kill off the penalty as the Hurricanes failed to muster much offensive zone time on the man advantage. Connor Clifton made it 3-0 Boston after another outstanding setup by Johansson just under four minutes into the middle period.

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The Bruins continued to push incredibly hard after the goal as they looked to impose their will. The Bruins continued to be very solid defensively as they didn’t allow Carolina to maintain an offensive rhythm as they looked to get back into the game. The Hurricanes continued to try to be physical towards the end of the second period but didn’t seem to be making much of a difference.

Chris Wagner was called for holding with just over six minutes left in the period as the Hurricanes looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins killed it off as Rask continued to have another strong game with a couple big stops during the man advantage. Boston would then go to the power play shortly after the kill as Williams was called for roughing. Grzelcyk made it two goals on the afternoon with a sweet backhand shot past Mrazek to make it 4-0 on the power play with about two minutes left in the period.

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Score: 4-0 Bruins

Third Period

Mrazek stayed in the net to start the third period in a slightly puzzling move but it was clear the Hurricanes were willing to roll the dice. Just over a minute into the period, David Backes stashed in a loose puck to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.

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About a minute after the goal, Bergeron was called again for tripping as the Hurricanes tried to desperately stay in the game. The Bruins killed off the penalty once again with almost no resistance and on the ensuing rush, Danton Heinen scored off of a great feed from Bergeron to make it 6-0.

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Williams made it a five goal game with a nice deflection on a shot by Justin Faulk with under nine minutes to go.

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After a bad misplay by Rask, Teuvo Teravainen buried the loose puck to give Carolina something to be happy about going into Game 3.

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Final Score: 6-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Grzelcyk. Perhaps the best player on the ice in this game, the young defenseman was everywhere and even took advantage of some scoring chances as he scored twice.

Second Star: Johansson. Another great game for the winger from Sweden who continues to potentially play his way into a new contract with the Bruins.

Third Star: Rask. While not incredibly busy, Tuukka was very solid especially when the game was still in the balance.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 1: Carolina at Boston: 5/9/19

cutPhoto Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (8-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-3)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Heinen-Coyle-Johansson

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Martinook-McKegg-Ferland

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The Bruins got off to a flying start with a few chances in the offensive zone and they looked to into the game right from puck drop. The Bergeron line had a great start to the game with a few good shifts in the attacking zone. Steven Kampfer, inserted into the lineup for the suspended Charlie McAvoy scored his first career playoff goal off a beautiful feed from Marcus Johansson about three minutes into the game.

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Sean Kuraly took a roughing penalty shortly after the goal and Sebastian Aho deflected in a shot past Tuukka Rask just seconds into the man advantage to tie the game.

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The Hurricanes got a huge swing of momentum after the Aho goal as they looked to build a lead early in the opening period. The Bruins responded to that with a few solid shifts of their own as they looked to return the momentum. Both teams started to settle in especially defensively as the scoring chances started to die down considerably. Charlie Coyle went to the box for tripping with under six minutes left in the period as Carolina looked to take the lead. The B’s killed off the penalty as Zdeno Chara took a shot off of his foot and appeared to be shaken up.

Immediately following the penalty kill, the Bruins went to the power play as Nino Niederreiter was called for slashing with about three minutes to go in the period. The Hurricanes killed off the penalty despite some good puck movement by Boston.

Score: Tied 1-1

Second Period

Brett Pesce nearly gave the Hurricanes the lead in the early moments of the period but hit the crossbar behind Rask which kept it a tied game. The B’s would be shorthanded yet again as Kuraly was called for a high stick about four minutes into the period. Boston killed off the penalty as Rask made a couple of huge saves. Both teams wasted no time renewing acquaintances with a ton of physical play and a few scrums after the whistle.

A crazy play in front resulted in Greg McKegg finding the back of the net before crashing into Rask after being pushed by Kampfer to give Carolina their first lead of the game.

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Rask made a few big stops after the goal to prevent the Hurricanes from extending the lead. The Bruins continued to have trouble generating offense as the Hurricanes began to dominate the possession game, making Boston tired from chasing the puck. The Bruins responded with a good shift from the Bergeron line as they looked to get back in the game. The Bruins picked up their second power play as Micheal Ferland went to box with three minutes remaining in the period. Carolina killed off the penalty despite some good scoring chances for the Bruins.

Score: 2-1 Hurricanes

Third Period

The Bruins got an early power play after Jordan Staal hit Chris Wagner from behind less than a minute into the period. Johansson found the back of the net towards the end of the man advantage on a loose puck in front to tie the game.

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The Bruins would receive another power play shortly after the goal as Dougie Hamilton went to the box for roughing. Patrice Bergeron buried a loose puck in front just seconds into the man advantage as the Bruins regained the lead.

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The Bruins went to the power play once again as Hamilton took another penalty, this time for interference as Boston looked to extend the lead. Carolina killed off the penalty as the Bruins struggled to maintain an offensive rhythm. The Bruins continued to respond after a trying second period as they had a strong period complete with chances from multiple lines. The Bruins also continued to be solid defensively in the final period as they anticipated several Hurricanes passes.

The Hurricanes pulled the goalie with about 2:45 to go as they looked to tie the game. Brandon Carlo scored on the empty net as the puck barely trickled into the net to essentially clinch the game. Wagner then made it 5-2 with goal off of a bad turnover to finish the game for the Bruins just seconds after Carlo’s goal.

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Final Score: 5-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Johansson. The winger had one of his best games as a Bruin, totaling two points including an important tying goal in the third period.

Second Star: Rask. The Bruin goalie continued his incredibly solid play as of late allowing just two goals and make a number of key saves.

Third Star: Kampfer. The veteran defenseman looked very solid filling in for McAvoy and didn’t look out of place at all.

Eastern Conference Final Game 1 Preview – Hurricanes at Bruins

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photo credit: Associated Press 

By Mandi Mahoney | check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

Here we are, the Eastern Conference Final! For the first time in a decade, the Carolina Hurricanes will be making an appearance in this round of playoff hockey. They will be facing the Bruins tonight at what is sure to be a rocking TD Garden. This will undoubtedly be a fun and interesting series, with all sorts of young players, old players, and goaltenders doing great things this season, and a multitude of fascinating storylines for everyone ti discuss.

Examples:

  • Can Tuukka Rask steal another series?
  • How will Brad Marchand offend the entire league next?
  • Is Greg McKegg’s full name Gregory McKeggory?
  • Is Dougie Hamilton still a no-fun wet blanket? Will he miss a morning skate because he’s at the Botticelli exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? Was he responsible for the heist?
  • Can Petr Mrazek keep playing like this? Does he really hate vowels?
  • Will the ghost of Scott Walker haunt the Bruins, help the Canes, or not appear?
  • How will the Bruins defense hold up without convicted criminal Charlie McAvoy?
  • How many times will Garden Organist Ron Poster play Brass Bonanza during the series?

We digress… let’s get the details down before the series begins!

Game Details:

  • Where: TD Garden, Boston, 8:00pm
  • Who: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
  • The game will be televised on NBC Sports
  • Leading Scorers: Brad Marchand (BOS), 5 goals, 8 assists; Jaccob Slavin (CAR), 11 assists
  • Goalies: Tuukka Rask (BOS) 8 wins, 5 losses | 2.02 goals against average, .930 save percentage; Petr Mrazek (CAR) 5 wins, 3 losses | 2.22 goals against average, .913 save percentage
  • Injuries: Kevan Miller (BOS – lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (CAR – upper body), Saku Maenalenen (CAR – upper body)
  • Miscellaneous: Charlie McAvoy will serve his one game suspension for a hit to the head on Columbus’ Josh Anderson tonight.

 

Boston Bruins Lines:

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – David Backes

Marcus Johansson – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Defense:

Zdeno Chara – Connor Clifton

Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer

Goalies:

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Carolina Hurricanes Lines:

Forwards:

Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams

Warren Foegele – Lucas Wallmark – Brock McGinn

Micheal Ferland – Greg McKregg – Jordan Martinook

Defense:

Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce – Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury – Calvin de Haan

Goalies:

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Keys to the game:

  • Team defense is going to be an important focus with Charlie McAvoy out of the lineup and Chara looking, well, old.
  • Goaltending is going to need to be solid, as the Cane are a speedy team with some scoring threats in Ferland, Svechnikov, and Aho
  • The Bruins cannot be a one or two line team. Things are clicking for Carolina lately, and all their lines are going to be buzzing. The Bruins’ entire roster needs to be engaged tonight.
  • Special teams are going to be a factor – the Bruins have the best powerplay in the league this postseason, and their penalty kill is solid as well. Hopefully they stay out of the box, but if they do end up on the kill, Carolina may have some trouble converting, which is an obvious plus.
  • The Bruins should not underestimate Carolina. They are a legitimate threat and have been playing some great hockey lately. Boston must take their opponent seriously, regardless of whether they’re a bunch of jerks.

 

Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes: In-Depth Series Preview

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Following Monday’s Game Six shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins officially move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since their Stanley Cup Finals run in the 2012-13 season. Boston now has a combined 8-6 record in the 2019 postseason and they prepare for a third-round match-up with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes entered the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card team, but courtesy of a Brock McGinn overtime winner in Game Seven, the Canes eliminated the Washington Captials who were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Carolina then faced the New York Islanders in the second round, a team who had swept the experienced Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round match-up. The ‘Bunch of Jerks’ dominated the Islanders, winning four straight – sweeping New York to meet at that time, either the Bruins or Blue Jackets.

For the second consecutive series, the Bruins will have to face a team who has had plenty of time to rest after their previous round ended while they have to deal with minimal rest in comparison to Carolina. However, the Bruins do have a few more days than they had between the Toronto and Columbus series which should be a great break for the team to regroup with only two rounds left to go.

Skaters To Look Out For

Boston Bruins:

  • F Brad Marchand: 13GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
  • F David Pastrnak: 13GP – 6G – 5A – 11P
  • F David Krejci: 13GP – 4G – 6A – 10P
  • F Charlie Coyle: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • F Patrice Bergeron: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • D Torey Krug: 13GP – 1G – 7A – 8P – 21:25 TOI
  • D Charlie McAvoy: 13GP – 1G – 5A – 6P – 24:46 TOI

The first-line trio of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had some early struggles in the 2019 postseason, but near the end of the best-of-seven series against the Blue Jackets, the top line started to heat up. In the crazy Game Five, Pastrnak tallied a pair of goals and his linemates of Bergeron and Marchand have been on the scoresheet numerous times as well.

David Krejci and Charlie Coyle have been the two best point-producing forwards aside from that line and Coyle himself has had some big goals including the game-winner in Game One’s first overtime session. Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly (not listed above) are also having themselves a big postseason. Both of them scored the insurance goal in each of the first series (Kuraly vs TOR in Game 7, Johansson vs CBJ in Game 6) and have been finding their game all over the ice.

On defense, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have arguably been the names seen the most, with them both having large time-on-ice numbers throughout the 13 games thus far, but players such as Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk have also been huge for Boston on the back-end. Going back to Game Five against Columbus, Carlo shut down Artemi Panarin in the defensive zone before passing it up to Marchand and then to Pastrnak for the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the third period.

The experience of the Bruins roster is something to watch out for as they have been able to battle through a lot of adversity throughout their years together as a core group, especially in 2018-19.

Carolina Hurricanes:

  • D Jaccob Slavin: 11GP – 0G – 11A – 11P – +8 Rating – 26:36 TOI
  • F Teuvo Teravainen: 11GP – 6G – 3A – 9P – +8 Rating – 20:20 TOI
  • F Warren Foegele: 11GP – 5G – 4A – 9P
  • F Jordan Staal: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P
  • F Sebastian Aho: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P 21:25 TOI
  • D Dougie Hamilton: 11GP – 3G – 4A – 7P 20:11 TOI
  • F Justin Williams: 11GP – 3G – 3A – 6P

Surprisingly, Jaccob Slavin leads the Hurricanes in points during the post-season with 11 assists in the same number of games. Three of those assists came in the Game Seven win over the Capitals. The 25-year-old defenceman averages the most minutes-per-game on the entire Hurricanes roster, with D Justin Faulk behind him, averaging 25:54 on the ice per game.

Behind Slavin, four Carolina forwards have nine points, putting their display of depth scoring on the max setting. Teuvo Teravainen led the team with 3-2-5 numbers in the four-game sweep of the Islanders. Seven players had three or more points in that same time span,

If the series goes to the do-or-die seventh game, then the Hurricanes will have a strong asset in captain Justin Williams. Williams holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7 with 15 throughout his career and boasts an 8-1 record in those crucial games. Williams was named the captain of Carolina in September 2018 and he has been the embodiment of leadership for the young locker room, having won the Stanley Cup on three occasions (’06 with CAR, ’12 & ’14 with LAK).

Goaltenders in the Between the Posts

BOS: Tuukka Rask – 8-5 .938 SV% – 2.02 GAA

Before the second-round battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets even started, one of the biggest concerns was how good Sergei Bobrovsky is and was most likely going to be for the duration of the series. Bobrovsky was good, but Tuukka Rask was outstanding for the Bruins for all six games, especially in the final three wins for the B’s.

In Game 4, Rask made 39 saves on 40 shots with the only goal going in creating controversy after the puck clearly hit the netting above the end boards. In Game Five, Rask was solid for the majority of the game, before allowing three third period goals in what was an insane final frame. Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella claimed Rask was “dented” after Game Five, but Tuukka came back even stronger with a 39-save shutout to eliminate Columbus.

One could very well argue that the reason that the Boston Bruins are prepping for Conference Finals, is Tuukka Rask’s elite play in net.

CAR: Curtis McElhinney – 3-0 .947 SV% 1.56 GAA OR

Petr Mrazek – 5-3 .913 SV% 2.22 GAA

Petr Mrazek was the starting goaltender throughout the regular season and was to begin the playoffs as well, eliminating the Washington Capitals and taking Game One against the Islanders. However, in Game Two, Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury that is being listed as a groin injury and did not play for the remainder of the series. Former Maple Leafs goalie, Curtis McElhinney, stepped in and won three straight to complete the sweep.

The eight-day break for Carolina allowed Mrazek to improve with his injury and it seems like he will be the goaltender that starts in Game One, but as of 1:00pm EST, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour would not directly release who that starting goaltender is. If it is McElhinney, the Bruins can expect Mrazek to be back in the lineup maybe as soon as Game Two on Sunday.

Either way, both netminders in the red and black sweaters for the Canes will be at the top of their game as they have shown throughout the postseason so far. Boston is used to playing against a hot goaltender, dealing with both Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky in the opening two rounds.

Season Series

The Bruins and Hurricanes played in three games during the 2018-19 campaign, with Boston finishing the season series with a 2-1-0 record.

  • October 30th/18: Bruins 3 – Hurricanes 2
  • December 23rd/18: Hurricanes 5 – Bruins 3
  • March 5th/19: Bruins 4 – Hurricanes 3 OT

Both of Boston’s wins over Carolina this season were only by a lone goal when the final buzzer sounded, including an overtime win to close out the season series on March 5th. Carolina won their only game of the series by a final score of 5-3. Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 37 shots against while Petr Mrazek stopped 27 of 30 shots that faced him.

Throughout the NHL history, both franchises have had some legendary playoff moments as well. That dates back to the days of the Hartford Whalers before the relocation to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 1997-1998 season. For more on that history, check out fellow BNG’s teammate Evan Michael’s article regarding the Bruins/Hurricanes before their 2019 clash.

Projected Lines for Game One

Boston Bruins:

Forwards:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defence:

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

Goaltender:

Rask

Scratched: Noel Acciari (upper-body), Karson Kuhlman (healthy), Charlie McAvoy (suspended for an illegal hit to the head), Zane McIntyre (healthy), John Moore (healthy).

Carolina Hurricanes (per @NHLCanes on Twitter):

Forwards

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defence

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

A starting goaltender has not been announced.

Scratched: Bean (healthy), Brown (healthy), Maenalenen (upper body), van Riemsdyk (upper body).

Puck drop for Game One is scheduled for tonight, May 9th at 8:00pm EST in Boston, followed by the remaining possible six games:

*if required

Game Two: Sunday, May 12th – 3pm EST in Boston

Game Three: Tuesday, May 14th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Four: Thursday, May 16th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Five*: Saturday, May 18th – 7:15pm EST in Boston

Game Six*: Monday, May 20th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Seven*: Wednesday, May 22nd – 8pm EST in Boston

With that, let the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals begin!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECSF Game 6: Boston at Columbus: 5/6/19

David PastrnakPhoto Courtesy Of Boston.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Home: Columbus Blue Jackets (6-3)

Away: Boston Bruins (7-5)

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Panarin-Dubois-Anderson

Dzingel-Duchene-Bjorkstrand

Foligno-Jenner-Atkinson

Texier-Dubinsky-Hannikainen

Defense

Werenski-Jones

Gavrikov-Savard

Harrington-Kukan

Goalies

Bobrovsky

Korpisalo

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Heinen-Coyle-Johansson

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

First Period

Charlie McAvoy showed no ill effects in the opening minutes of the game after taking a puck off of the skate late in Game 5. Neither team got any prime scoring chances in the first minutes as they both seemed afraid to make any mistakes. Tuukka Rask had to make a few saves in close in the opening moments to keep it scoreless. Pierre-Luc Dubois was called for goaltender interference with under six minutes left in the period after a hard drive to the net. The Blue Jackets killed off the penalty as the Bruins failed to get any shots on goal. Sean Kuraly appeared to score immediately after but it was called back for goaltender interference after the challenge by Columbus.

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The Blue Jackets seemed to get a jump after the challenge as they moved the puck with tremendous urgency. The Bruins fourth line responded with a very solid shift but didn’t result in much as the Blue Jackets continued to find their footing. The Bruins started to struggle getting scoring chances toward the end of the period as the Blue Jackets started to control the game and the tempo.

Both teams started to get scoring opportunities late in the period but both Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky made sure the game remained scoreless with some spectacular saves.

Score: Tied 0-0

Second Period

The Bruins were a bit sloppy in their own zone in the opening minutes of the period but good defensive plays by Torey Krug and David Backes didn’t allow the Blue Jackets to get an early goal. David Pastrnak was called for tripping early in the period which resulted in the Blue Jackets first power play of the night. The Bruins killed off the penalty and even got a good scoring chance against Bobrovsky. Both teams got some great chances including Dean Kukan hitting the crossbar but the game remained deadlocked.

The Bruins would go to the penalty kill again as Brad Marchand was called for slashing with 10:38 left in the period. Rask continued to have another strong game as he made a couple of huge saves on the penalty kill as the Bruins kept the game scoreless. David Krejci gave the B’s the lead shortly after the kill as he blasted home a one timer for his fourth goal of the postseason.

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Rask continued to have a great night with a few big stops late in the period to preserve the Boston lead. The B’s continued to be solid defensively especially in the neutral zone as they limited the Blue Jackets speed and didn’t let them establish momentum in the attacking zone. McAvoy was called for an illegal check to the head with under a minute to go in the period as the Blue Jackets looked to tie the game.

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Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period

The B’s killed off the penalty as Patrice Bergeron had a spectacular shift with a scoring chance and a couple solid defensive plays to maintain the Boston lead. The Bruins started the final period with a few good shifts in the attacking zone as they looked to extend their lead. Joakim Nordstrom was called for slashing with over 15 minutes remaining as the Blue Jackets looked to tie the game once again.

The Bruins killed it off once again as the Blue Jackets continued to ring the iron and not be able to beat Rask who was simply impenetrable. Marcus Johansson doubled the B’s lead nearly halfway through the third with a shot that busted through Bobrovsky’s glove.

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Backes made it 3-0 after a beautiful feed from Krug shortly after the Johansson goal as the Bruins started to impose their will with about nine minutes remaining.

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The Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky with about 3:30 to go as they tried desperately to get back into the game down by three goals. The Bruins held on as they advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time in six years.

Final Score: 3-0 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Rask. Perhaps his best game of the postseason in this one. Number 40 picked up his first shutout of the postseason as the Bruins advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2013.

Second Star: Krejci. The center had another strong night with two points and was probably the Bruins best skater in Game 6.

Third Star: Backes. Points in three straight games for the grizzled veteran who continued his strong play as of late.

Bruins Senior Core Vital to Playoff Success

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki / msn.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Boston Bruins could secure their place in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight with a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The resurgence of the B’s first line has underpinned the importance of their senior core.

After tweaking the lineup for most of the playoffs, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, restored one of the most formidable lines in hockey for game five against Columbus, and it worked. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined for a total of six points, three goals and three assists in the 4-3 win. Up until game five, the Blue Jackets had done a great job of neutralizing all three players.

Marchand and Bergeron led the Bruins forwards in ice time in game five, and the latter was hugely effective in the face-off circle, when he wasn’t tossed out anyway. Hockey is a team sport, but it is no secret that Boston depends on these two, especially against tough opposition like Columbus. Many suspect Bergeron has been playing with an injury like he has in the past, but he is still contributing to this team. We probably won’t find out if he is hurt until the B’s season ends, but injured or not, Bergy will be crucial for the rest of the playoffs.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are notoriously physical, David Backes has certainly bought the heat since returning to the lineup. The veteran forward has seen his role significantly reduced this season, but that hasn’t affected his effort. He has made a number of hits in the Columbus series and his physical style has been a real help to the Bruins. The former St. Louis Blues captain brings a lot of experience to the team, he is always vocal and that will be a boost for the younger players. He might not start every game, but Backes will play an important part if the B’s advance to the next round.

At 42 years of age, Zdeno Chara continues to defy time as a top pairing NHL defenseman. He has spent the third-most time on the ice of all the Bruins this postseason, and most of that time has been against the oppositions best lines. Chara is also an integral part of the B’s penalty kill. It’s common knowledge that he’s lost his speed, but he makes up for it with his reach and ability to read the game, which is often overlooked by his critics. Big Z has been the Bruins captain since 2006 and his leadership is second to none. He is an important part of a relatively young defensive group including Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk.

They say there are no easy games in the NHL, that’s especially true in the playoffs. When things haven’t gone well for the Bruins one man has bailed them out time and time again, Tuukka Rask. The Finnish goaltender continues to polarize the Bruins fan base, but he has been one of the teams best players during the postseason. The Bruins have come up against two great goalies in Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky, but the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets will feel that they also met their match in Rask. NBC’s coverage has many critics, but hearing Doc Emrick shout “Saved by Rask” is extremely satisfying.

The Bruins need to win one more game against Columbus to advance into the Eastern Conference Finals. The Blue Jackets will not make it easy for them, but whatever happens moving forward, Boston’s senior core will be vital to their success.