Bruins, Chara Answer The Bell

Image result for bruins islanders chara fight(Photo Credit: NBS Sports)

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

“For Whom The Bell Tolls…”

Well, according to heady British poet & author John Donne, “it tolls for thee.” But if you ask punched-in-the-head(y) pugilist & Islander Matt Martin, it tolls for Zee. As in Big Z. As in Bruins Captain and former NYI wunderkind Zdeno Chara. And boy did he, and the Bruins, ever answer the bell — in a BIG way — against their 1st-place pals in the Metro Division to kickoff their Spring season.

As the B’s fearless leader recapped in his post-game interview, “we made some strong plays… and our specialty teams were also strong.” Very well said for arguably the strongest guy on the ice on a nightly basis (definitely, at least, this knuckled-up night). However, putting brute physicality & force aside, it’s a different kind of strength displayed by both Chara and his teammates that I found impressive. One that even the aforementioned Mr. Donne would equally tip his cornered hat to, hence why I’ll be waxing poetic with his eponymous words about it for the remainder of this postured post of puck prose.

“No Man Is An Island…”

Definitely not on this Bruins team. And definitely not against the Islanders (even though they were playing for an “island”). Because Boston’s strength, as I just alluded to, is truly in their numbers — i.e. EVERYONE is buying into what B’s management and the coaching staff, particularly head coach Bruce Cassidy, have been preaching since key players went down with untimely injuries earlier in the season: “be the next man up.”

And even as the injury bug piled up over the last month and a half, the next man did step up — individual statistics aside. Sometimes that came in the form of versatile veterans spelling some struggling youngsters for a game or two (namely Lee Stempniak and Paul Carey, like them or hate them). Other times it was the exact opposite, with eager Baby B’s jumping back into the mix (your Trent Frederics and Connor Cliftons) to relieve the pressure of the recognizable names still needing recovery time. Thankfully, as we’re finding out, almost all are ready to return to the line-up soon, with an order of Pasta finally seen on the Bruins’ menu (with a side of splint)!

No matter who was wearing the Black N’ Gold proudly over that injury-riddled time span, though, the result was the same: the Bruins were always competing, always fighting, always exhibiting a team strength & unity where no man truly felt like “an island” having to do it all (unless of course you were Matt Martin and you had fisticuffs with Zdeno Chara).

“Each Is… A Part Of The Main”

Mainly, I can’t think of a better way to accurately describe how the B’s are accomplishing all that they are right now. To quote NESN’s Jack Edwards, who ever-so-eloquently performs a form of poetic lyricism every time he calls a game, “if you would have told me the Bruins would be where they are in the standings [after Patrice Bergeron & Zdeno Chara went down on back to back days earlier this season]… I’d have been dead wrong!” Wouldn’t we all have been.

Yet, thanks to the every part is a valuable part mentality with which the B’s operate, there’s more than enough room on Edwards’ bandwagon for new friends & old returnees, as he likes to tweet, to get behind what’s currently (and Kuraly) happening in Boston. One needs to look no further than No. 52’s constructive comments following his 2-goal performance on Long Island, in particular: “I think we just try to stick to our game… our leadership, we just wanted to keep comin’ and keep playing hard.” Wise words, indeed!

“It Tolls For Thee.”

In conclusion, it all comes full circle back to that leadership Kuraly talked about. Be it Big Z’s big fight or Bergy’s big goal or the big shift from the Backes/Acciari/Nordstrom line that showcased not only toughness & talent, but also skill & skate savvy — aspects of every players’ game, in fact, that featured in this statement victory.

Speaking of statements, the whole point of Donne’s poem was to illustrate the interconnectedness of mankind — that if we’re all in it together, it doesn’t matter in the end who answers the proverbial bell, because (in the end) it will eventually toll for all of us. If we apply that same prescient & poetic philosophy to the 2018-2019 Bruins–a team very much interconnected in all the right ways–then here’s what you can expect: an exTOLLing of praise come playoff time.

That’s one bell well worth answering!

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Game Preview: Bruins vs Islanders

Related image(Photo Credits: Empire Mine Craft)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The Boston Bruins travel to Long Island to square off against the New York Islanders, amid some positive reports that superstar right-winger David Pastrnak may return to the lineup this week. After an emotional overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, (with some fired-up encouraging words from MMA star Conor McGregor), the Bruins snapped their three-game losing skid. With that win, Boston will be looking to continue to carry over that emotion in tonight’s match-up at the Nassau Coliseum.

GETTING THEIR GROOVE BACK

Despite having dropped their last three games, the boys in Black and Gold quickly jumped back into their regular form with Brad Marchand netting the winning OT goal. As the regular season winds down with only 10 games left to play, the Bruins will continue to rack up the points and widen the gap between themselves and the Toronto Maple Leafs (who have lost their last few games). The Bruins are now 43-20-9 are still in second place in the the Atlantic Division  and are now third in the league, trailing Calgary.

At this morning’s skate,  Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy  updated the media on the possible return of Pastrnak:

“Not saying that he will (play), but he’ll make that decision in conjunction with the medical staff as early as (Tuesday) after morning skate. I would assume he’ll be a game-time decision…I suspect if he doesn’t play (Tuesday) that Thursday will be a real good day.”

If Pastrnak does return, it’ll be an adjustment for the winger. Since his injury was an upper-extremity, the 22-year-old Czech has been able to skate thus keeping his legs fresh. Even with the injury, Pastrnak is now tied with Brad Marchand for most goals at 31.  Marchand, for his part, has stepped his game tremendously alongside his linemate Patrice Bergeron. He leads the team with 56 assist and also leads in points (87). Another milestone for the Bruins; Captain  Zdeno Chara is one goal away from reaching the 200 career goal mark.

In other updates, injured defenseman Torey Krug was also seen skating at this morning’s optional pre-game skate in a red non-contact jersey. Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk and Marcus Johansson did not travel with the team. Jake DeBrusk was reportedly not on the ice and in a camwalker boot. Expect Tuukka Rask in net tonight and has a 24-10-5 record with a 2.45 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.

Related image(Photo Credits: Fansided: Eyes On Isles)

SURGING ISLES

In their third meeting against the Islanders, the Bruins have won both previous games. The last time these two teams met was on February 5th  with Boston winning 3-1, snapping the Isles eight-game point winning streak.  New York hasn’t beaten the Bruins at home since 2013. With a recent 3-2 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild, the Isles are now tied with the Washington Capitals for first in the Metro Division at 91 points. The Islanders lead the league in goals against per game with a 2.33 average per game and under head coach Barry Trotz, have surged to a Playoff position.

Image result for new york islanders vs boston bruins(Photo Credits: Shutterstock)

On the injury front, center Casey Cizikas has been nursing a lower-body injury and will be a game-time decision for tonight. Former Bruins Johnny Boychuk will be a out for tonight’s game. Expect Robin Lehner in net tonight for the Isles. The 27 year-old goaltender has record of 20-11-5 with a goals against average of 2.19 and a save percentage of .927. Forward Anders Lee has netted  a goal in four consecutive games and leads the team with 27 goals.  Center Matt Barzal leads the team with 41 assists and 58 points.

WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 7:00P PM- NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum

WHERE TO WATCH: MSG+, NESN

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A Look At Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara On His 42nd Birthday

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

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

The Bruins team is full of wise, experienced veterans in their lineup and Zdeno Chara is probably the wisest and most experienced of them. On Monday, March 18, Chara turned 42 and continues to lead the Bruins with no end in sight to his outstanding career in the NHL.

At Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the team brought Chara a birthday cake and sang him Happy Birthday. Although he might not have eaten it, the gesture was fun and thoughtful of the Bruins coaches, players, and management for one of the greatest Bruin of all time.

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Zdeno Chara was born on March 18, 1977, in Trencin, Czechoslovakia. He was originally persuaded by many in his home country to play basketball because of his height. However, he continued playing hockey and was drafted in the third round 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis.

Chara spent his first year in North America in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars playing close to 50 games. The following season he split time between the Islanders squad and the then Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Then, ironically, before he came to the Bruins, he spent time in Lowell, Massachusetts playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters, who was the New York Islanders AHL affiliate at the time during the 1998-1999 season.

After 4 seasons on Long Island and 4 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bruins on July 1, 2006, and was also named the team captain.

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Standing at 6 foot 9 inches tall, Chara is the tallest player to ever play in the National Hockey League and has yet to give up that title. Much like his body type, his play on the ice is monstrous. Throughout his career with the Bruins, he has been a strong, shut-down defenseman that can occasionally put the puck in the net with his record-breaking 108.8 mph slap shot. His dominant play has always given his coaches the confidence to play him against the league’s top lines and top players. He averages 24:20 time-on-ice for his career and even this season, at age 42, he is averaging 21:02 time-on-ice for the Bruins defense. From his shutdown play to versatility on the ice, Chara achieved the leagues highest defenseman honor with the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best d-man in 2008-2009. Chara also was an integral part of the Bruins bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years when Chara lifted the Cup the highest it had ever been lifted in 2011.

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Zdeno Chara has just turned 42 years old, and many fans have criticized him for his play in the past three years or more. Although he will never be as dominant as he was earlier in his career, he is still a force on the Bruins blue-line. Just one part of his importance with the Bruins for the rest of his career will be his mentorship for young Bruins defenseman. When Brandon Carlo stepped into the league in the 2016-2017 season, he was paired up with Chara for most of his rookie year, and now we have seen Carlo be one of the Bruins best defenseman this year. We have also seen Chara paired up with Charlie McAvoy as he was transitioning from College hockey to the big leagues and both have learned valuable on and off ice lessons from Big Zee. He knows what it takes to win mentally and physically and how to keep his body healthy to continue to perform at a high-level night in night out in which he can teach young defenseman valuable lessons.

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No doubt that Chara is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he does decide to hang them up, and we could even see #33 hanging from the rafters at TD Garden. Chara is one of the most influential pieces for the Bruins this season and postseason both on and off the ice and has proven to be a fierce competitor who has put his blood, sweat, and tears into the spoked B for over a decade. Happy Birthday, Zdeno!

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Bruins A Successful “Social” Bunch

Image result for nhl bruins 2019 team photo(Photo Credit: Fansided)

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

You could call it a “Cult of Personality” — especially if you’re a fan of 80’s rock band Living Colourthat’s successfully surrounding the Boston Bruins right now. And it’s not just how the team is playing on the ice, 19-game point streak records aside. It’s how the players are interacting off the ice (indeed, Behind The B if you will) that’s proof this team is perhaps a bit more socially connected with each other than in year’s past. As a result, it’s very easy to cheer on, root for & enjoy the B’s no matter how you watch or cover them (writer/blogger/fan), especially with the type of special season they’re putting together game after game.

There is just something about this team, indeed. Long gone are the days where the B’s locker room or bench was the only place you’d find teammates complimenting or commiserating with each other. Now, players can keep the playful chirping & chiding going all off-day long thanks to their social media savvy… something we all know can have a devastating impact to team sports if not approached or handled correctly. Thankfully, this current Black N’ Gold group does it just as entertainingly as their on-ice play as of late… and you can best “B”-lieve it’s one of those intangibles bringing the team, the fans & the region together.

Of course, Brad Marchand & Torey Krug have been using Twitter to tease each other mercilessly all season long with truly trolling take-down threads that have caught the eye of ALL hockey fans these past few weeks. In the GenZ/Millennial age of communication, this is camaraderie at its fun-centric finest. But, they’re also recognizing just how impactful a “tweet” or social media message can be to the people who follow them — and what a world of difference a simple response can make, as in the recent case of big B’s fan Jillian Murphy who enjoys throwing shade just like Marchy does:

As NESN recently featured, the B’s social presence is now spilling over onto Instagram, where Marchand and other teammates are making the most of their positive outreach, a move that will undoubtedly lead to comments (and commenters) a-plenty as the playoffs approach and EVERY move the Bruins make will be under the microscope, no matter the platform or platitude. Yet, I like it. I support it. I hope it becomes an insta-hit!

When did many of us realize this B’s team was going to be a “hit”? — and in a way much more meaningful than any inefficient enforcer types? I’d say when we got a peak at the Peaky Blinders from the Winter Classic. There was just something different (in a good way) about how these guys were approaching big games, big moments & big opportunities to showcase their togetherness and team pride.

Image result for boston bruins peaky blinders(Photo Credit: TD Bank)

I don’t think it will, or should, stop for the remainder of the season either. Because as we all have witnessed over the past two decades of Boston sports dominance, there are just some teams that are more magical than others; there are just some fits within a lineup that achieve remarkable results, no matter the level of pressure or passion. And the 2018-2019 Boston Bruins, as successful of a social bunch as their ever was one, are on the verge of being one of those personality-driven teams where the results, like the spotlight, will follow.

And we should all feel pretty good about getting to see it up-close and personal in living (Black N’ Gold) color!

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Here is What John Moore Means to the Bruins’ Success

( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

What might reasonably be forgotten or overlooked amidst the dominance with which the Boston Bruins have been playing as of late, is now riddled with injuries there roster was for a significant portion of the season. While the forward units have had battles of their own, this season has seen the ensemble of Bruins defensemen take more punishment than any other unit. Injuries to the majority of the Bruins top-7 defenseman have brought prospects like Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, and Urho Vaakanainen into the lineup for stints of their own. Steven Kampfer similarly played in more games (25) than many Bruins fans might have anticipated coming into the season.

The Bruins are not unique because of their struggles with injuries. In an 82-game season, you would be a fool to expect to throw out the same lineups every night for the duration of the season. Injuries happen to every team, almost always hurt. And, depending on where and how severely they strike, they can hurt A LOT.

( Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire/ Getty Images )

The potential disaster that looms when injuries to important pieces in the Bruins lineup occur has been countered effectively by two important factors—the Bruins’ depth, and skillful coaching. Here, I will focus on the former. Specifically, how John Moore’s presence among Bruins’ blueliners has been and will continue to be instrumental, and how it can easily be overlooked and underappreciated.

 

Big Credit to Me

First, let me state that I am amazingly refraining from using every corny Moore/more pun that comes into my head. Which is incredibly difficult for me, especially given that I am speaking to how an increased role (more responsibility) on Moore’s behalf alleviates a lot of the issues that the Bruins dealt with late in last season. This restraint from overusing the cheap relationship between “Moore” and “more” (woah, they sound the same but are spelled differently!) is incredibly impressive of me, many will say. But I don’t expect your praise. Just listen to my words.

Understated

John Moore’s signing in the offseason flew under the radar for most casual hockey fans. Sure, he’d been in the league a few years and is widely regarded as a “solid” defenseman—a proven entity who will neither make nor break your team’s success. His contract doesn’t break the bank, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hockey-porn highlight video of coast-to-coast goals featuring Moore, so it registered as slightly less than newsworthy. But in the short (hopefully) examination of Moore’s game that follows, I’m hoping you can view his role like I do (Moore clearly, sorry), to understand just how big of a piece he is to the Black and Gold.

Wheels

John Moore does not play a complex style of hockey. To the lei-person, you might describe it as a “meat and potatoes” type of game. He keeps it simple, plays primarily North-South, and makes a good first pass. “Meat and potatoes” might be accurate, if you’re talking about meat and potatoes that can skate like the wind. John Moore’s biggest asset is his skating ability, something that is often overlooked due to his generally stay-at-home-iness.” I might Trademark that term, I’m not sure yet. It’s neither here nor there.

John Moore can fly. While he doesn’t possess the offensive skill set or playmaking ability of fellow blueliner Torey Krug or *insert all-star defensemen here*, he has the motor to play with significant pace, which helps the Bruins for a few reasons. Not only do Moore’s wheels help him fit in with a D core that has evolved in terms of their skating ability as a whole, but they afford him the freedom to jump up in the play as needed. Moore’s speed and hustle to get back quickly coming back to Boston’s own end allow him to play more creatively in the offensive zone, which has manifested itself through Moore making confident pinches and extending offensive zone time for the B’s.

He won’t rank among the Bruin’s most reliable puck movers, scorers, or tough guys. But John Moore plays with pace, grit, and speed. In today’s NHL and its massive emergence of speed and skill among forwards, it’s crucial to have as many defensive pieces as possible to match speed and eliminate it as a threat. I look at John Moore as a workingman’s Nick Leddy.

Depth/Health

Coming into the season, Moore was brought in to be an effective third-paring defenseman. His contract reflected the belief that the organization had in Moore to play solid minutes every night as a regular. As the season has progressed, Moore has, as of late, been looked to as the 7th defenseman. On nights where the D-core has been healthy, Moore has found himself out of the lineup. Fortunately for the Bruins, this is not a reflection of poor play on Moore’s behalf. In all honesty, this has come about due to the astounding development in the game of Matt Grzelcyk, who has not only played himself into the Bruins’ regular defensive unit but has earned himself some time on the second powerplay unit as well.

Having addressed that Moore’s status is not the result of any type of poor play, this presents itself as a great problem to have. A problem of too many good and healthy players is one that Don Sweeney and Bruce Cassidy would have killed to have last season, as their depleted defensive unit couldn’t stave off Tampa Bay’s offensive onslaught in the second round of the playoffs. When looking at Moore’s roughly $2.75M/year contract, I think most would agree the defensive depth and reliability is a resource that has proven to easily be worth $3 million, especially after seeing what Brandon Carlo’s absence did to the B’s playoff hopes.

Interestingly, as I mentioned earlier, almost all of the Bruins regular 7 defensemen have missed time this year due to injury. Among the least affected by the injury bug has been Moore himself. This has allowed the Cassidy’s Bruins to continue to field a bona fide 6-man defensive unit even when injuries have struck. Even now, the B’s find themselves down Kevan Miller for the foreseeable week or so—something that would be exponentially more troublesome if not for Moore’s steady hand and readiness on the back end. The best ability is availability, and Moore has it in spades.

Eating Minutes/Shots

In a category that is much less based in nuance, Moore’s average ice time is in the 19-minute range. By all accounts, this stat is completely unremarkable on its own. However, when it is factored into the equation (not an actual equation) that involves how much rest it provides top dogs like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Zdeno Chara, it proves to be much more significant. Teams struggle when third-paring defenseman can only be counted on to play 12 solid minutes a night because it means that top-pairing defensemen will end up shouldering the load for at least 25 minutes. This type of even distribution that Moore can bring to the Bruins’ defense makes the unit more effective as a whole and counterbalances the negatives that fatigue can bring to many a D-core.

John Moore eats important minutes. Let’s call them his lunch. But what’s for dinner? Shots. John Moore soaks pucks. Despite having a set of tools that doesn’t extend much past his skating ability, John Moore is second among Bruins’ defensemen in blocked shots, with 72. For someone that skates as gracefully as Moore does, it’s encouraging to see him embrace the gritty side of things, which is something that Bruins fans love (see: Gregory Campbell). Moore’s willingness to put his body in harm’s way to prevent scoring chances, and doing so effectively, make him a staple on the Bruins’ penalty kill.

The Bruins’ currently hold one of the better penalty kills in the league and will need to continue to do so to get through offensive juggernauts in the East like Tampa and Toronto.

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What it Means?

For those who wished to skip the details of what John Moore means to this Bruins team, the three-word summary reads as follows: He is important.

Moore brings speed, depth, health, grit, and perhaps most importantly, he brings experience to a team that has its fair share of talented yet inexperienced players. All evidence points to John Moore’s continued unheralded contributions to a successful Bruins team. He won’t get recognized for it by most people.

But I don’t think he’ll care.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Carolina: 3/5/19

Image result for bruins canes whalers

(Photo Credit: Jamie Kellner)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Carolina Hurricanes

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen

DeBrusk – Krejci – Johansson

Cehlarik – Coyle – Backes

Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Grzelcyk

Goalies

Halak

Rask

San Jose’s Lineup

Forwards

Niederreiter – Aho – Williams

Ferland – Staal – Teravainen

Svechnikov – Martinook – McGinn

McKegg – Wallmark – Foegele

Defense

Slavin –  Hamilton

Pesce – Faulk

de Haan – van Riemsdyk

Goalies

McElhinney

Mrazek

First Period

The Bruins wore their whites at home as the Canes were wearing their green Hartford Whalers uniform for the second time this season. Just over three minutes in, Marcus Johansson was leveled by Micheal Ferland and went down in a heap. He left the ice with the assistance of teammates and Bruins head athletic trainer Don Del Negro.

Things immediately got chippy after that hit. Most notably David Backes taking liberties to the Ferland hit by fighting him, marking Backes’ third fight in four games. Ferland actually suffered an upper-body injury after his hit on Johansson and fight with Backes and went on to not return to the game.

A Calvin de Haan shot deflected off of Zdeno Chara and Sebastian Aho and past Halak to make it 1-0 Carolina. John Moore then cross-checked Brock McGinn in the back at center ice and went to the box for it. It got to the point where we saw a rare 4-on-3 for a bit – the first period was a mess in the first ten minutes.

The nonsense continued with a too many men on the ice penalty of all penalties for the Bruins. Peter Cehlarik served it. Luckily they killed it off.

Overall, it was a bad period for the Bruins. Too much retaliation after the Johansson hit was at the epicenter of their struggles. The shots were 12-11 Bruins.

Score: 1-0 Carolina

Second Period

Each team came into the period a forward down, but that didn’t stop Aho scored on a breakaway thanks to a poor Bruins defensive line change. 2-0 Canes. To make things worse, Patrice Bergeron unintentionally slew footed Jaccob Slavin and went to the box for tripping. Luckily again, the Bruins were able to kill it off.

Even a Bruins power play past the halfway point of the period couldn’t help the Bruins get on the board. The offense just wasn’t there early on. That was all until Chris Wagner buried a rebound to finally get the Bruins on the board. Wagner’s tenth goal of the season was assisted by Brandon Carlo (6).

With under two minutes to go, David Krejci helped make it consecutive unanswered goals for the Bruins when Jake DeBrusk picked up his rebound and buried it. Tie game. DeBrusk’s 22nd of the year was assisted by Krejci (41).

A resurgent second period for the Bruins concluded with another shot advantage, 15-10 this time, 27-21 overall.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

A second too many men on the ice penalty came to the dismay of the Bruins, served again by Cehlarik. To the surprise of no one, Brad Marchand did something awesome on a penalty kill. Marchand forced a defensive zone turnover, broke down the opposite side wing and found Patrice Bergeron on the other side of the pond for the Bruins’ third straight goal. 3-2 Bruins. Bergeron’s goal marked his 23rd of the season, Marchand hit 50 assists on the goal for the second straight season.

Following the goal, Curtis McElhinney made a series of excellent stops to keep Carolina’s deficit to one – the Bruins were hungry for more. Unfortunately, Justin Williams eventually evened things up off of a one-timer, thickening the plot of this wild game.

Thanks to a 15-9 shot advantage from Carolina, the shots finished tied at 36 at the end of regulation. The point streak for the Bruins is extended to 17 games.

Score: 3-3

Overtime

Coyle, Wagner, and Moore for Boston, and Staal, Teravainen, and Slavin for Carolina to start overtime. DeBrusk and Krejci wove some magic to win it for the Bruins. I’ll let the video do it some justice. What a goal.

Next up for the Bruins are the Florida Panthers on the Thursday at 7 PM ET at TD Garden.

Final Score: 4-3 Boston

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Why Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy Should Be In Conversation For Coach of the Year

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins have been on a roll lately and are currently on a 14 game point streak as of their February 28th matchup with the NHL’s best Tampa Bay Lightning. This team is feeling it right now, and season-long confidence from Bruce Cassidy and coaching staff has fueled this team to a top team in the league. Bruce Cassidy should be in the conversation with NHL’s elite coaches.

Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins have skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference and the NHL’s overall standings. As of Thursday, they sit at 83 points which is second in the Atlantic Division, second in the Eastern Conference and Third place in the overall league standings. They even came in second in the NHL’s weekly power rankings. Just one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, every point down the stretch is still critical for Boston and their playoff positioning.

At the forefront of every good hockey team is obviously good players. But, accompanying high-end talent on the ice, is high-end talent behind the bench. The Bruins have that in Bruce Cassidy. Bruce Cassidy was hired as interim head coach on February 07, 2017 after the firing of Claude Julien who coached the Bruins for 10 seasons and is the winningest coach in Boston Bruins franchise history. He then became the 28th head coach on April 26, 2017.

Bruce Cassidy undoubtedly has big shoes to fill. Throughout extensive injuries last year and this year, the Bruins under Bruce Cassidy have the second best record in the league since he was hired in February of 2017. Bruce Cassidy is currently 105-44-22 in parts of 3 seasons in Boston. He just recently became the second fastest Bruins coach to reach 100 wins when his team defeated Chicago 6-3 on February 12, 2019. With 100 wins in 166 games, only Tom Johnson was quicker in the 1971-1972 season when it took him 138 games to get to 100.

It is evident that Bruce Cassidy’s system is working in Boston and in my opinion, has to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s Coach of the Year. They continue to win games, and his voice in the locker room is strong. Bruce Cassidy has lost many players for parts of this season to injuries like David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and many others. As a result, he has shown a lot of confidence in the young players stepping into the lineup or into new line roles like Heinen, DeBrusk, Cehlarik, Kuhlman, Frederic, Vaakanainen and others. But despite these man-games lost, the Bruins are still climbing the NHL standings and solidifying their spot in the 2019 playoffs.

As the Bruins have battled their injuries this season, Cassidy has had to balance a lineup that has seen a lot of youngsters from Providence fill in for the injured B’s and has taken a lot of criticism for his line pairs. However, I think Cassidy has done his best with the lineup, and his system has worked. Thanks to their second-best powerplay percentage at 26.4%, strong leadership, experience, trade deadline help and consistent contribution up and down the lineup, the Bruins have emerged as a strong Stanley Cup contender from the East.

Wins speak volumes with whoever is in the lineup for the Bruins. Regardless of who has stepped in for Boston this season, the Bruins continue to win under Bruce Cassidy. Along with the likes of Bill Peters in Calgary, Barry Trotz with the Islanders and John Cooper with the Lightning, Bruce Cassidy has to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Boston Bruins!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

Will you “B” my Valentine?

That’s what many are asking on this heart-filled February 14th. And for the Boston Bruins and their Black N’ Gold fans, there’s a lot of love to go around right now. From the team’s 3-game winning streak, to its 8-game point streak, to Tuukka Rask’s very own personal point streak…

…it seems everyone’s buying in — and pitching in — to what Bruce Cassidy and management want to see from this team (as currently constituted): more speed, more toughness & more scoring, especially from the young guns. And considering how everyone responded versus the Blackhawks in a secondary goal-filled 6-3 win on TD Garden ice this week, it’s probably safe to say the B’s, like their Valentine’s Day cards, are all smiles right now:

But you know what else would “Tuukka my breath away” for the B’s? Making the most of this weekend’s West Coast schedule, in particular the two back-to-back (“I love you to the moon and Backes?”) games against the cellar dwellers of the Pacific, the Ducks (no longer Mighty in any way, shape or form) and Kings (quite dethroned if you ask me). Those are 4 points screaming to be won!

And with Montreal hot on the Bruins’ heels and Toronto less than a five-for-fighting glove hand away in the standings, “these points are at a premium” to quote one of the B’s best analysts Mr. Andy “Brick” Brickley (who, alongside his play-by-play partner Jack Edwards was featured over the Summer in a special “Men Behind the Mic” article on this very blog).

If the Bruins are to make the most of their match-ups against Anaheim & Los Angeles, they’ll need to continue getting contributions from not only the Bergy’s and Marchy’s and Big Z’s of the team, but also the likes of *Jake Debrusk, *Danton Heinen and perhaps even the newly called-up *Karson Kuhlman (can we get the nickname “Special K” started already?), who’s been quite the site for sore scoring eyes in Providence lately.

***[If you click on the hyperlinks above, you can catch up on some great profile pieces from fellow BN’G writers on how these players could be hitting their strides at just the right time for the Bruins]

No matter who steps up, though, the B’s will be in a good place if they spread out the contributions and talent — be them winning 6-3 with prolific scoring or 2-1 with prolific defense & stout goaltending. It will also be a picture-perfect way to gauge just how needed a trade is ahead of the February 25th deadline and what type of player, be it an elite center/winger or a more established role-player, the B’s should bring in.

Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot to love about your Boston Bruins this Valentine’s Day. Or, in the wily whimsical words of Brad Marchand:

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Game Preview: Boston Bruins Vs. Chicago Blackhawks

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe) (Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By: Erin Walsh | Follow me on Twitter @ewalsh90

After picking up two overtime wins against the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche last weekend, the Boston Bruins will set their sights on the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks.

This will be the second and final matchup between the Bruins and Blackhawks this season with the B’s taking home a 4-2 win over the Hawks at the Winter Classic in January.

Surging Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are winners of seven straight with their most recent coming against the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Over the course of this seven game stretch, the Hawks have managed to pull off two overtime wins against the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild while also adding a shootout win over the New York Islanders in January.

Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is on a 14-game point streak and he will look to extend that when the Hawks visit TD Garden on Tuesday. Kane had a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks win over Detroit on Sunday.

Chicago recalled Dylan Sikura on Monday ahead of the matchup with Boston. Through 11 games with the Hawks this season, Sikura has tallied three assists with one of those coming in the Winter Classic.

Over the course of their seven-game win streak, captain Jonathan Toews has tallied 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). Toews scored a hat trick against the Washington Capitals in January and also added two assists for a five point night.

21-year-old Alex DeBrincat is having a huge year up front for the Blackhawks. DeBrincat is on an eight-game point streak and tallied two assists in Chicago’s win over Detroit.

Dylan Strome’s contributions should not be overlooked. The Mississauga native was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Blackhawks earlier this season and that was a game changer for him. Through 20 games with Arizona, Strome tallied six points. Through 32 games with the Hawks, Strome has tallied 30 points.

Although they are seventh in the Central Division, the Blackhawks boast a record of 23-24-9 and are just four points out of the second wild card spot in the West.

blackhawks_ceiling_usa_today(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

Blackhawks Projected Lines

Caggiula — Toews — Kane
DeBrincat — Strome — Kahun
Saad — Anisimov — Perlini
Sikura — Kruger — Hayden

Keith — Seabrook
Koekkoek — Gustafsson
Dahlstrom — Murphy

Delia
Ward

Scratched: Chris Kunitz, David Kampf, Gustav Formling,
Injured: Corey Crawford

Bruins Sneaking By With Wins

With a record of 31-17-8, you wouldn’t think the Bruins are struggling as of late. The B’s sit third in the Atlantic Division but that could very well change with the playoff race in the East heating up.

The Bruins have managed to accumulate points in each of their last seven games — Going 4-0-3 through the stretch.

Although the Bruins are winning, they aren’t wining by much. Six out of their last seven have been one-goal games. The B’s are seriously lacking secondary scoring. Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak was recently split up by head coach Bruce Cassidy to see if he could balance out the scoring.

Pastrnak is now on the second line with Peter Cehlarik and David Krejci while Danton Heinen is now on the first line with Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen has found his game on Bergeron’s right wing tallying a goal and an assist against the Kings over the weekend.

Pastrnak leads the team with 66 points (31 goals, 35 assists) and Marchand is giving him a run for his money with 65 points (21 goals, 44 assists).

However, as the team just learned today, Pastrnak will be out for two weeks with a thumb injury. Here’s what Captain Zdeno Chara had to say about the B’s bad break with Pasta:

Goaltender Tuukka Rask has won each of his last three starts and will look to get his fourth straight win against the Hawks on Tuesday. Rookie Trent Frederic has yet to record his first NHL point but to be fair, he isn’t fully developed yet.

Defenseman Torey Krug has five points through his last five games including an assist against Colorado over the weekend.

If the Bruins want to make a legitimate playoff run, they’re going to have to get some depth scoring.  Will we see some depth scoring against Chicago on Tuesday?

Bruins Projected Lines

Marchand — Bergeron — Heinen
DeBrusk — Krejci — Cehlarik
Nordstrom — Frederic — Backes
Kuraly — Acciari — Wagner

Chara — McAvoy
Krug — Miller
Moore — Carlo

Rask
Halak

Scratched: Grzelcyk
Injured: David Pastrnak (Thumb)

WHEN TO WATCH: Tuesday, Feb. 11 with puck drop at 7 p.m. ET.
WHERE TO WATCH: NESN, NBCSN

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It’s Groundhog Day & Bruins Keep Repeating Mistakes Over & Over

Enlight610(Photo Credit: Enlight)

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

BING! If Ned Ryerson is everyone on the Bruins who can’t score right now (or practically all season for lines 2-4), then Phil Connors is the coaching staff, management & fan base reacting appropriately:

 

And it keeps happening over… and over… AND OVER, just like the aptly-named comedic classic Groundhog Day. But there’s nothing to laugh at this February 2nd for the Boston Bruins. Their on-ice business isn’t funny at the moment and, furthermore, everyone’s fed up with the funny business happening on the ice right now. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy ain’t pleased with his D-core. The D ain’t pleased with the fruitless forwards. And the goalies, well, they ain’t pleased with anything (excuse the vernacular)!

This is what happens when you lose three in a row after having leads in all three games; when you lose 5 out of 6 after having scored the first goal in every game; when you constantly let important points slip away in a playoff race where EVERY. SINGLE. POINT. MATTERS!

I’m kind of wishing Blades the Bear pulls a Groundhog Day and goes back into hibernation after seeing his shadow. Because if we have to bear 6 more weeks of Winter hockey like this, then it truly is “pitiful” to quote Weatherman Phil (and then some):

 

Yet, for all the moping & groping and whining & pining that Bruins fans do (and rightfully so considering the current climate surrounding the team’s dispirited play… heck, I know I’m guilty of it), the solution is right there for all to see. In fact, Jack Edwards has been screaming it from the booth–and on Twitter–as loud as he can over the past two weeks: EXTEND THE LEAD.

As we’ve seen in the most recent games against Montreal, Philly (twice), New York & Winnipeg, the B’s have had a 1-goal lead with glorious chances to make it a 2-goal lead, be it on the PP, a quick clean breakout, a cycle-pressure turnover or a breakaway. Yet, every player has come up empty when given the chance “to bury it.” Yes, even the only-thing-keeping-the-Bruins-afloat first liners have missed on extension goals, to playfully paraphrase Edwards. As a result, the B’s have gone an abysmal 0-2-3 in those games. That’s right, ZERO WINS in games where they’ve not only had a lead, but a lead in the third period that should’ve been closed out, especially this late in the season (and against teams with inferior records). It’s about as maddening as a cold shower during the Polar Vortex:

So, what’s the solution to this ever-repetitive, ever-repulsive puck performance the B’s are putting us through right now, outside of “extending the lead”? Maybe it’s a trade… a shake-up… a big, bold move from up above!?!? I know a lot of folks on social media are all for this course of action — be it a Panarin-type, a Dzingel-type, or ANY TYPE THAT CAN ACTUALLY SCORE.

No matter what happens on the trade front for the B’s this month, first and foremost they need to survive the Groundhog Day curse. This all-too-familiar trend of repeating the same day/game again and again and again MUST STOP. If Phil Connors can do it, so can the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask & Bruce Cassidy. Be it checking or Chekov, the Boston Bruins have to turn things around starting February 3rd.

 

Do I sure as heckfire want that to happen? BING!

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Click Here For 2018-19 Boston Bruins Regular Season Games and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com