Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part I

Bruins Schedule(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

With the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 regular season schedule recently released by the league and team, it’s that time of the off-season again to mark your B’s calendar! In this six-part series, I’ll be taking a look at what I think are the key scheduling stretches for the Black N’Gold this upcoming year. Some will be home stands, others long road trips; we’ll preview some back-to-backs and some historic (and heated) rivalries; and of course we’ll look at the big divisional match-ups and Stanley Cup rematches that all of the hockey world will be eager to see.  So, without further ado, let’s start with the B’s grueling Fall schedule — a tough test for any team, let alone one that played until June and will have a limited Summer.

OCTOBER 3rd – 10th: “Road Warriors”

The Bruins open next season on the road and stay on the road for another three games in what could be called a mini Western Conference kick (as opposed to the annual “West Coast Kick” in California later next Spring). The team first plays the always formidable and fight-filled Dallas Stars on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd before taking on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche over the next seven nights, respectively. This will be a pretty solid litmus test for the almost Stanley Cup Champs (who also pride themselves in being “Road Warriors”) as three of their four competitors also had solid playoff runs and will be wanting to make a statement against the Eastern Conference Champs on home ice. I expect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to split these four games, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rode the early hot (glove) hand on the road if either could get on a streak right out of the gates.

If the B’s can secure at least five-out-of-eight points during this opening stretch of hockey, that would be ideal — especially when you consider the team will be without stalwart defensemen Kevan Miller & John Moore to start the year and will most likely be featuring a new top-six set-up with Butch Cassidy juggling “the Sundance kids” to see who exactly is the best fit alongside Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (line one) and David Krejci & Jake DeBrusk (line two).  All in all, there’s a lot to pay attention to and take note of as the B’s travel West for a week to start the ’19 season.

OCTOBER 17th – 29th: “Test Your Might!”

I’m likening this next portion of the Bruins’ schedule to the opening part in the original Mortal Kombat theme song: Test Your Might. And coming off what will hopefully be a successful TD Garden Home Opener on October 12th against New Jersey (that’ll be a good one now that P.K. Subban brings his devilish “D” to the Devils) followed by a visit from the once mighty Ducks of Anaheim two days later, the B’s will need every bit of focus, fortitude & follow-through to contend with what could be the most challenging two weeks of hockey all year (and for any NHL team).

To wit: Boston welcomes the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners from Tampa to town on the 17th and ends the month with the near-Cup-contending Sharks swimming by on the 29th. Sandwiched in between what will undoubtedly be two great games of exciting hockey to bookend this stretch, you see a home-and-home versus a revenge-motivated Toronto team, followed by a Game 7 rematch versus St. Louis’ surly squad that gave everyone in Boston “the Blues.” Then, it’s off to New York to battle the rebuilding Rangers on the road.  These six consecutive games will show beyond a shadow of a doubt if the B’s are still Cup-trending or are in need of a boost/spark before Thanksgiving. To paraphrase a different Mortal Kombat line from the still-catchy tune of yesteryear, the B’s will need stand-out performances from, indeed, their mightiest of stars who will be put the test early and often:

EXCELLENT!

Krejci (Kano)

Big Z (Liu Kang)

Marchand (Raiden)

Tuukka Rask (Johnny Cage)

Bergeron (Scorpion)

Sub Jaro (Sub Zero)

Pasta (Sonya)

BOSTON KOMBAT!!!

Coming up in Part II of my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series, I’ll preview what’s on the November docket and how the B’s can take advantage of some important divisional match-ups to make the most of their early season schedule. In the meantime, stay tuned in and tuned up with all things Black N’ Gold by checking out our podcast below:

 

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

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

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

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

Zdeno Chara

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

Kevan Miller

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

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

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

David Krejci

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

Jake Debrusk

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

Brad Marchand

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

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

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

David Pastrnak

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

John Moore

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

Charlie Mcavoy

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

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

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

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

Noel Acciari

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

Steven Kampfer

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

David Backes

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

Torey Krug

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

B’s Chara Confirms He Played Through Multiple Jaw Fractures

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

( Photo Credit: The Buffalo News )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara confirmed today during the end of season media availability that he indeed played through a broken jaw and in fact played through multiple fractures in his jaw after blocking a Brayden Schenn shot in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The expected recovery for Chara is 5-6 weeks.

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Chara made a miraculous return to the lineup just days after suffering the injury, as he didn’t miss any time in the lineup. He, however, only played 16:42 in the Game five loss as the Bruins decided to play seven defensemen. The 42-year-old then played 22:15 in the B’s 5-1 win in Game six which was the second-highest time on ice total on the team. With his goal in Game six, Chara became the oldest player to score in a Stanley Cup Final game, and with his appearance in Game seven, he broke the record for most Game seven appearances with 14.

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Chara signed a one-year extension on March 28th as he was set to go into this offseason unsigned. There’s obviously no guarantee he does indeed come back as it would be feasible for him to retire as well. Knowing him, however, I would be very surprised if he chose to hang them up. It will be interesting to see if his minutes decrease next season considering his age and considering the capable young defensemen on the Bruins roster already.

Bruins D Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara Deemed Game-Time Decisions

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PHOTO CREDITS: Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced earlier today, June 6th, that defensemen Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk are deemed game-time decisions for tonight’s pivotal Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, Massachusetts.

The news comes today after many speculated on the numerous off days since the Game Four loss on Monday that Zdeno Chara was done for the remainder of the postseason with what was assumed to be a broken jaw. However, it was made clear that the 42-year-old captain did not need his jaw to be wired shut and he is not missing any teeth but he does indeed have a brace going along his bottom gum line according to Shawn Hutcheon.

Chara’s injury came from the second period in Game Four when he attempted to block a wrist shot from Blues forward Brayden Schenn with the Bruins down 2-1 on the scoreboard. As a result, Chara inadvertently deflected the shot off of his monstrous stick and directly into his face. A flow of blood immediately poured out of the giant as he skated off to the Bruins locker room. Chara did end up returning in the final regulation period with a full face mask, but did not play a shift as he felt “uncomfortable”.

As for Matt Grzelcyk, his injury came back during Game Two of the Finals, when he took a hard hit along the end boards by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The National Hockey League’s Player Safety took a look at the hit and following a hearing, was suspended for Game Three. After taking the hit hard, Grzelcyk appeared to stumble when he got up, sending him through concussion protocol.

The 25-year-old was forced to miss Game Four on Monday but was seen wearing a maroon-colored non-contact jersey in practice on Wednesday but Cassidy was not positive on his status for Thursday’s contest. Earlier today, Cassidy clarified that Grzelcyk is also a game-time decision like Chara and if he feels ready to go around 7:00pm, then he will be in the lineup.

During the talks of both injuries, Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may lean to running seven defensemen and eleven forwards for Game Five and according to the Head Coach on Thursday, that idea still remains a topic of discussion ahead of puck drop, even if both blueliners are feeling up to the task of playing in this crucial game.

In regard to the injury, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said this in a written response to the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association:

“You don’t think about that. You think about playing. You don’t go into a game thinking you might get hurt. At this time of the playoffs, everyone has injuries and there are challenges that you have to overcome to play. I’m no different than any player on either team.”

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals is deadlocked at two games apiece with tonight’s game in Boston giving the winner a 3-2 series lead and a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Sunday in St. Louis. The current scheduled puck drop for the game is 8:00pm EST.

Next Man Up: Zdeno Chara Status Uncertain for Bruins in SCF Game 5

charainjury

( Photo Credit: wcvb.com )

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

As the Bruins and Blues prepare for a pivotal game five in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins could be without their captain. In game four at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Zdeno Chara took a puck to the face in the second period that prevented him from returning to the game. Now, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins might have to adjust to missing their leader for a big game of a tied Stanley Cup Final series.

Just three minutes into the second period of game four, the Bruins lost their captain after Brayden Schenn rifled a shot that ramped off of Chara’s defending stick and into his mouth area. Chara would leave for the second period, and the Bruins were again down to five defensemen much like game two in which they lost in overtime. At the start of the third period, Chara was on the Bruins bench with a full shield on, leading many to believe that the monster defenseman would play. However, he did not touch the ice besides in between TV timeouts to rally up his troops. It was later revealed by Cassidy that Chara was advised not to play as he was “very uncomfortable” but wanted to sit on the bench to be there for his teammates.

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After Ryan O’Reilly buried a late third-period game-winning goal that would ultimately tie the Stanley Cup Finals series at two games apiece, worry crept into Bruins fans’ minds about the status of the Bruins captain. On Tuesday, it was reported that Zdeno Chara broke his jaw as a result and he ultimately missed practice on Wednesday at TD Garden. At the conclusion of Bruins practice, Cassidy spoke about Chara’s facial injury and that it was not a good sign that Zee was not on the ice on Wednesday.

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So, all signs are pointing to Big Zee potentially being out for at least game five in this series. That leaves Bruce Cassidy with some very tough decisions heading into arguably the biggest game of the series and the season for both the Bruins and the Blues. With Grzelcyk going down after a hard hit from Oskar Sundqvist in game two, John Moore was called on to step in and replace Grzelcyk on the blue line. The next man up that we have seen step up in these playoffs would be Steven Kampfer. However, Cassidy has second-guessed the insertion of Kampfer because he is a right-handed shot and would throw off the right-left balance between Kampfer and Connor Clifton – a balance that is consistent with the rest of the defense.

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Another option would be for Cassidy to insert Bruins rookie standout Urho Vaakanainen into the lineup. Urho would solve the right-left shot balance as he is a left-handed shooting defenseman. However, this could be a risky move as Vaakanainen has only played two regular season games in the NHL.

The third option for Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff is to roll eleven forwards and seven defensemen. This, of course, would mean that a forward would be scratched in order to make room for the seventh defenseman which would likely be David Backes as he was often the odd forward out in the earlier rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Karson Kuhlman was with Krejci and DeBrusk on the second line. The Blues have beaten the Bruins twice this series, and both times the Bruins have lost defenseman for a big chunk of the game when they lost Grzelcyk in the first period of game two and Chara at the beginning of the second period of game four.

On Wednesday, the practice lines looked like this:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes
Johansson – Coyle – Heinen
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari
Moore – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Kampfer – Clifton
Grzelcyk – Vaakanainen
Rask
Halak

As of Wednesday, Cassidy stated that Grzelcyk still needs to be cleared which he is possible to get cleared tomorrow. It appears that Kampfer would play with Clifton in game five, but that will ultimately depend on if Cassidy wants to remove a forward and go with the seven defensemen, if Grzelcyk is cleared, or if Vaakanainen gets the call over Kampfer. Good news is that Grzelcyk looked well on the ice and that he skated with the second powerplay unit indicating that he is close but still needs to be cleared.

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All in all, Cassidy is in for a series of crucial tough decisions for the all-important game five at TD Garden on Thursday night. If Chara is unable to go for game five, the Bruins will undoubtedly miss his leadership on and off the ice.

From Peaky Blinders to Soccer-Tennis: Bruins’ Team Chemistry Shines Through

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( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images )

By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Bruins fans have been pretty spoiled this year. In addition to NESN’s long-running “Behind the B” series, which offers a more candid look at the team, the NHL produced a program leading up to the Bruins/Blackhawks New Year’s Day Winter Classic game at Notre Dame Stadium, and the Bruins have been featured in numerous special series and segments throughout the team’s long playoff run.

One thing that has been obvious from the abundance of behind-the-scenes footage made available this season is that this particular Bruins’ team has strong chemistry – both on and off the ice. Comprised of a core of veterans who have battled alongside each other for years and a group of future stars who grew up together, if you will, in development camps, the AHL and now on the NHL-level, the team as a whole seems to have found the secret to coming together as one cohesive unit.

This chemistry has also been quickly recognized and adopted by newer players like Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johanssen, who were acquired near the trade deadline, and 2018 free-agent signings Chris Wagner, John Moore, Joakim Nordstrom and Jaroslav Halak.

In fact, Wagner played a key role in the team-unifying phenomenon that seems to have started it all. On Nov. 1, 2018, Wagner posted a Halloween-themed photo on Instagram that featured him, six of his teammates and Torey Krug’s wife dressed up in the style made popular by the television show Peaky Blinders.

Two months later, the entire team donned Peaky Blinders garb to make a decided fashion statement as they entered the stadium for the Winter Classic. The look was so popular, a “Peaky Bruins” poster was created and handed out to fans at a game at TD Garden later in the season.

A poll conducted on Twitter indicated that many Bruins fans agreed that the Peaky Bruins was their favorite display of the team’s chemistry so far this season.

Of course, good chemistry on any team comes from good leadership. Captain Zdeno Chara has long-preached an everyone is equal attitude, from the most seasoned veteran to the greenest rookie. Chara also calls on each member of the team to support the others, and he leads by example.

The 42-year-old captain has demonstrated his team-first mentality several times throughout the season. The most memorable examples came in the clinching game four of the Eastern Conference Finals, when the injured Chara put on his uniform and came onto the ice to celebrate with his team, as well as when he sat on the bench in a full-face shield in the third period of game four of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday to support the team after being knocked out of the game. His teammates certainly took notice.

After Wagner left game-three of the ECF with an apparent arm injury, he returned to Boston for medical tests while the rest of the team remained in Carolina for what turned out to be the series-clinching game. Still, the team made sure to include Wagner in the post-game locker room celebration.

And, that brings us to soccer-tennis. Lots of hockey players warm up before the games with spirited games of “no-touch.” However, this Bruins team apparently has upped its game to a hybrid sport that can be played in the locker room, the weight room, or just about anywhere.

The long list of unique moments from the 2018-2019 version of the Boston Bruins also included the legend of “the fishbowl.” The full-face shield seemed to give both Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari a scoring touch when injuries forced them to wear it. In Kuraly’s case, teammates teased him about the powers of the plexiglass. The tables were turned when Steven Kampfer, who had made fun of Kuraly’s choice of protective gear, suffered a mouth injury in the next game that left him wearing the same shield.

Of course, the ultimate team-bonding moment will occur if the Bruins win this series and hoist the Stanley Cup. However, win or lose, this team promises to hold a special place in fans’ hearts for years to come.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 4: Boston at St. Louis: 6/3/19

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(Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: St. Louis Blues

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

St Louis’s Lineup

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Tarasenko

Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron

Blais – Bozak – Maroon

Barbashev – Sundqvist – Steen

Defense

Edmundson – Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester –  Parayko

Dunn –  Gunnarsson

Goalies

Binnington

Allen

First Period

The goal scoring started really early, 43 seconds in off of a wraparound from Ryan O’Reilly. Tuukka Rask made the initial save on a point shot from Vince Dunn, but O’Reilly buried the quick wraparound very shortly after. The Bruins were forced to battle some early momentum from St. Louis from the get-go. Just what the Blues wanted.

The Blues continued to push the pace after scoring the first goal, outshooting the Bruins 7-3 through the first 6:53 and outhitting them 11-5. After that, the Bruins made some headway in terms of creating offense, but struggled with finding puck luck.

That all changed when Charlie Coyle got on the board for the ninth time in the playoffs. Danton Heinen took a hit to make a play and Coyle’s chance initially came off of a Zdeno Chara shot, before potting his own rebound. Chara’s assist was his fourth. It was 1-1 with 6:46 to go, goals in three straight games for Coyle.

Vladimir Tarasenko got lost in coverage and scored to take back the lead for the Blues with 13:14 left in the period. Tarasenko is the last person on the Blues you want to have a golden opportunity to score.

The Blues controlled play for much of the period, and also laid some pretty solid hits, which was a big reason as to why they were succeeding. They were the better team in the first period. Two big advantages for St. Louis in the first came in shots at 13-9 and in hits at 24-16.

Score: 2-1 St. Louis

Second Period

Things were fairly standard early until Chara had a Brayden Schenn shot deflect up and off of his face, bloodying the Bruins captain and forcing him to get repairs.

The first penalty of the game came 5:47 into the period when Coyle high-sticked Carl Gunnarsson. The Bruins killed off the penalty without one of their main penalty killers in Chara.

A Bruins power play came shortly after thanks to a delay of game penalty on Colton Parayko. The Bruins had a massive opportunity to tie the game, but they did not convert and the Blues held their one-goal lead.

Connor Clifton went to the box for an illegal check to the head of Tarasenko after a lengthy stint of offensive zone time for St. Louis. But who else but Brandon Carlo to tie the game with a shorthanded goal with 5:41 left? Carlo’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal was assisted. Patrice Bergeron (8) and Brad Marchand (13) has the assists. The goal made Carlo the 20th Bruin to score a playoff goal this season. That’s a franchise record.

It was not a perfect period for the Bruins, but Carlo’s late shorthanded goal was massive. The Bruins took the hit advantage this time, 13-8, but the Blues held the shot advantage, 12-10. After two, shots were 25-19, hits were 32-29, both in favor of the Blues. Chara did not return to game action after taking a puck up high. The Bruins needed to feed off of the energy from the Carlo goal into the third period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

Good news for the Bruins came in the form of Zdeno Chara’s return, with a fishbowl on his helmet. Bad news came in the form of a Danton Heinen tripping penalty just 2:08 into the period. Rask made a series of huge saves on the penalty kill, helping the Bruins kill it off. Through four and a half minutes and after the Heinen penalty was killed, the Bruins held a 13-3 advantage in blocked shots.

Coyle drew a high sticking penalty with 13:18 remaining to give the Bruins their second power play of the game. Up to this point, Chara remained on the bench for the whole period. Not a whole lot of cohesiveness came on the power play, and as a result, the Bruins failed to score.

Oskar Sundqvist has certainly made some noise in different ways in this series. That’s one way to put it. David Backes decided to flatten him.

O’Reilly added to his monster performance in this game, and he got rewarded for it when he quickly buried a rebound. Poor coverage in front of the net did not help Rask after a tough shot to contain up high and O’Reilly found an open spot in the chaos. Not too long after, Rask made a big stop on Patrick Maroon on a 2-on-1. St. Louis remained ahead by a goal with 8:44 to go. Shots to this point in the period were 9-3 in favor of St. Louis.

Things were pretty bad for the Bruins for the remainder of the third. Not a lot of cohesiveness and a bad turnover by Clifton that led to Schenn’s empty-net goal. The Schenn goal came with 1:29, 4-2 St. Louis. With 25.7 seconds remaining, Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug went off following a scrum. Another scrum happened at the buzzer. Chara went the whole third period without a shift, he was there to rally his troops.

Next up is game five in Boston on Thursday at 8 PM ET. The shots were 13-4 in favor of St. Louis and the hits were even at 12. ST. Louis clawed their way back into the series with force. A pivotal game five awaits.

Final Score: 4-2 St. Louis

Relishing The Moment: Boston Bruins Brandon Carlo

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

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Career Year for Bruins’ Chris Wagner

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Boston Bruins forward Chris Wagner’s season seems to have ended last week, after he blocked a Justin Faulk slap shot, injuring his forearm in the process. If that is the case, the 27-year-old had himself a solid first season for the Black and Gold.

The Walpole, MA native signed a two year deal with the Bruins last summer, after spending most of his NHL career in Anaheim. The rugged forward was drafted by the Ducks in 2010 and remained part of the organization until he was traded to the New York Islanders in February 2018.

The Bruins had been criticized for lacking physicality after the 2017/18 season, and Wagner was bought in to address that. He’d been credited with 253 hits that season, the third-most in the NHL. Boston GM, Don Sweeney, cited the winger’s energy and physicality as the main reasons for adding him to the roster. Nicknamed the ‘Mayor of Walpole,’ Wagner certainly lived up to his side of the bargain, he led the Bruins with 247 hits during the regular season.

After showing some promise during his time with the Ducks, Wagner had been given an opportunity to shine for one of the best teams in the league, and boy did he take it. Not only was he the Bruins most active hitter, but the tireless fourth-liner bagged a career-high 12 regular season goals. He also added seven assists, taking his regular season points tally to 19, another career-high.

After being labeled a ‘depth signing’ by some, Wagner quickly won the fans over. Like most supporters, the Boston faithful appreciate hard work, something he displays every time he is on the ice. His energy, work rate, and physicality earned him NESN’s 7th Player Award, presented to the Bruin who exceeds fans expectations. Local players have not always worked out in Boston, but with the help of fellow New Englanders Charlie Coyle and Noel Acciari, Wagner is bucking that trend.

The 2018/19 regular season was undoubtedly Wagner’s best, but he didn’t stop there. He featured in 12 playoff games for the Bruins before his injury, scoring two goals, both in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. This was not Wagner’s first postseason rodeo, he had 21 playoff appearances for the Ducks, adding vital experience to the Bruins lineup. The B’s will certainly miss his tenacious presence and will look to the likes of David Backes, Zdeno Chara, and his replacement Noel Acciari to match his physicality. The fourth line has been a useful weapon for the Bruins all season, and Wagner was a key part of the ‘energy line.’

It looks almost certain that the injury to his forearm will end a fantastic season for Wagner. He will be very unlucky to miss out on the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Bruins are there, thanks in part to his efforts throughout the season. He is thriving in Boston and will be eager to return to the Bruins lineup as soon as he can. One thing is for sure, as first seasons with new teams go, they don’t get much better than this.

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.