Saturday, January 31, 2015

Game 50: Matchup of Royal Proportions

The Boston Bruins absolutely were devastated when the All-Star break happened. Not so much that it ACTUALLY happened, but more so the timing of everything.

The B's won six-out-of-eight games before the layoff and climbed into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. One would assume that the sudden halt in the schedule would skew the momentum of a team. 

The Bruins kept all of this in mind when they entered Thursday night's game, a contest in which they defeated the New York Islanders. They officially started off the second half of the season exactly where they stopped. With no signs of letting up, the B's returned home on Saturday night to take on the Los Angeles Kings. 

The Kings are in a loaded Pacific Division and are one of the deepest teams in the entire NHL. Even with Tanner Pearson injured and Mike Richards put on waivers, the Kings are equipped to shock the B's on home ice. For what it is worth, LA nabbed a 2-0 victory over Boston in December. Would a split in the season series sound good? You bet. 

Malcolm Subban was recalled for the first time in his NHL career for this game as the team sent Niklas Svedberg down to Providence for a conditioning assignment. 

He did one heck of a job...holding open the bench door for the players as he backed up Tuukka Rask in this game. Don't worry, he will get his opportunity soon enough. As for the action, wow was it intense. The Kings play an incredibly heavy and physical game, and they out-muscled the Bruins in the opening period. 

The elite goaltender matchup between Rask and Jonathan Quick was on full display as they combined for 64 total saves. The scoring did not occur until late in the second period as Brad Marchand fought through some battles in order to blast the puck for his 14th goal of the year. After Rask allowed a shaky goal to tie things up, the Bruins scored two goals in the third period to take this game by a final score of 3-1. This was one of the most thrilling games of the season. It is a shame that we only have 32 games left before playoff time. 

The Bruins will not play again until Wednesday night when they take on the New York Rangers. That should be another good one.

Gold Star: Brad Marchand...The two goals he recorded were sparked by him not getting any calls to go his way. It is great when he plays with a chip on his shoulder. 

Black Star: Craig Cunningham...He got absolutely thrown around out there seemingly every shift. It was a rough night for the fourth-line winger.

Game Fifty Box Score

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Game 49: End of an Era

Here is to hoping that everyone around the National Hockey League enjoyed the festivities of the All-Star break. The players had a chance to bond and they also had the pleasure of entertaining the fans all weekend long. Below is a recap of what happened over the three-day break in Columbus: 

*Our own Patrice Bergeron recorded a goal and four assists in the game, leading to a Team Toews victory. He was selected ninth by the Chicago Blackhawks captain and participated in several of the competitions on Saturday night. Very entertaining stuff. 

Fantasy Draft

Skills Competition

All-Star Game

Now that the week-long layoff is over, the Boston Bruins were ready to resume their schedule and continue their ascension in the Eastern Conference. They took on the New York Islanders on Thursday, a night that will be eternally remembered in B's nation.

It has been rumored that the Isles will be moving to Brooklyn, potentially making this the final time the Bruins would travel to the Nassau Coliseum. As one of the most historic buildings in sports history, the "other" New York team will miss the arena. 

As emotional as it was, the Bruins were focused on getting the two points on this night.

The Isles squeaked out a 3-2 victory in the last meeting, but the Bruins were eager to stop the second-place team in the Eastern Conference...even with John Tavares in the lineup. However, Kyle Okposo (second on the team in points) was absent for the Islanders due to an upper-body injury. 

With the heavy rest, the Bruins sent out the same full lineup that they did before the break...and they came out strong. The Bruins smothered the Islanders and prevented them from creating any fast-break opportunities on Tuukka Rask, the bread and butter of that team. The B's popped in two goals (Reilly Smith and Bergeron on the power play) after some early line changes. Boston did not miss a beat. 

In the second period, it was back and forth in every sense of the phrase. New York had the better scoring chances and showcased the prolific offense that the team is known for, but Boston played harder along the boards. A couple of sloppy turnovers and lazy defensive plays by the B's led to two goals by the Islanders. However, Kevan Miller put the Bruins back on top with three seconds left in the period by slapping home his first goal in 21 games. 

The final 20 minutes belonged to the Black and Gold. Rask stopped every shot he faced in the third period (43 total saves for the game) and the defense held strong. The Bruins did end up adding two more goals, but turned out to be unnecessary. The B's start the second half of the season off on the right foot, knocking off the Islanders by a final score of 5-2. 

The Bruins will return home on Saturday night for their next game. They will take on the Los Angeles Kings. 

Gold Star: Reilly Smith...He had a goal, two assists, a plus-three rating, and a bloody lip. That equates to a typical game for a Bruin. 

Black Star: Loui Eriksson...Wow, he just could not help himself in this game. His poor play directly led to the second period goals allowed by the team. This was not a great night for him.

Game Forty-Nine Box Score

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Games 47-48: Brief Road Trip Before the Break

After having a much-needed two days off, the Boston Bruins resumed their schedule this week for a back-to-back set. They traveled to Dallas to take on the Stars on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

This past Saturday, the Bruins had their five-game winning streak snapped by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Not only that, but the B's were (and will continue to be) without Brad Marchand due to suspension. 

What do you expect? Teams never go through a season at full strength, and that is especially true for Boston's opponent on Tuesday night.

The Stars have not lived up to expectations placed on them before the season. Sure, injuries were a problem, but the chemistry did not happen right away. To go along with Tyler Seguin, they added Jason Spezza to lock up their offensive depth. Seguin is tied for the league lead in goals with 28 tallies. Why couldn't he do that when he was in Boston? Anyway, this was the first time this season the Bruins faced their former young stud. 

What a way to end the schedule before the All-Star break.

After a scoreless and penalty-filled first period, that is when the game really started to open up. The Stars have some fast guys, but the Bruins matched their speed all night long. In the midst of some entertaining bursts of rushes, the B's broke through with incredible/hard-fought goals. Loui Eriksson, who was a member of the Stars for several seasons, got some redemption against his former team by netting a second-period goal. In the third period, Tuukka Rask was unbeatable. He made 36 saves (nine on Seguin...just thought you should know....) in a huge road outing. Dougie Hamilton added a power play goal and an assist to cap the 3-1 victory. It was back to winning ways for the Black and Gold. 

As for Wednesday's game against the Avalanche and former Bruin Jarome Iginla, Marchand returned to the lineup after serving his two-game suspension...and netted his team-leading 13th goal of the season. How about that? In regards to the game itself, the two teams played fast paced and physical. Believe it or not, it is tough for a squad to possess both of those qualities; Boston and Colorado are of the like. For those who stayed up to watch the conclusion of the game, the Avs won in a shootout. However, taking three-out-of-four points on the trip was huge for the Bruins heading into a week layover. 

Enjoy the All-Star break and best of luck to Patrice Bergeron this weekend!

Gold Star (combined): Gregory Campbell...It has been too long since he has had a good stretch of games. His gritty effort displayed all season long got rewarded with a goal against Dallas. 

Black Star (combined): Adam McQuaid...There was only so much he could have done, but three minor penalties on Tuesday and a less-than stellar performance in the defensive zone on Wednesday made for a lackluster trip for him.

Game Forty-Seven Box Score

Game Forty-Eight Box Score

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Game 46: One Last Time

Ugh. We finally have hit a bump in the road.

Just when things were going so well for the Boston Bruins, the momentum may have been obliterated on Friday afternoon. The league announced that Brad Marchand will be suspended two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard of the New York Rangers on Thursday night. 

It's unfortunate because the B's were clicking on all cylinders and were quickly become one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. With that being said, the reputation of Marchand did them in here. He has to pay with the suspension. 

Daniel Paille will be inserted into the second line, left-winger role for the next couple of games. The B's needed to put this behind them and focus on potentially winning six-straight games. 

They closed out the week at home on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The two teams have split the season series thus far, but Columbus embarrassed the Bruins during the last meeting--a 6-2 loss in Columbus for Boston back in December. It definitely goes without saying that this is a completely different team presently. Even though the Blue Jackets are struggling this year, the final matchup of the season was up for grabs on this night. 

Not much more detail needed here. It is time to get to the game. 

Boston was dominant for the entire 60 minutes, but it was Columbus that cashed in on some lucky bounces of the puck. Naturally, the Blue Jackets scored on the power play; They are the fourth best team in the NHL with the man advantage. Carl Soderberg tied the game some minutes later, and that score remained the same until late in the third period.

From there, the Jackets popped in two late goals (one being an empty netter), both by Matt Calvert. Columbus has been decimated by injuries and have not shown its full capabilities with a below-average point total, yet they knew how to play the Bruins when they needed to. The Blue Jackets play aggressive in every aspect of the game which translated to a 3-1 victory, snapping the B's winning streak. 

The Bruins will hit the road next week for a back-to-back set before the All-Star weekend. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He did allow two goals, but the 28 shots he did stop were huge at the time. He kept the Bruins in it the entire game. 

Black Star: Dougie Hamilton...Right from the opening whistle, he was not on his game. He took a couple of minor penalties early and was sloppy with the puck. All in all, a rare bad game for the young blue liner.

Game Forty-Six Box Score

Details on Marchand's Suspension

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Game 45: Heavy Week Continues/He's Here To Stay

This is actually quite an important week for the Boston Bruins.

Even though they are in the midst of a three-game homestand, all of their opponents are either ahead of them in the standings or have given the B's tough losses. If you are a glass half-full individual, this is what you want to see.

As a fan, this week should be a measuring stick for all of us and this team. The B's need to be challenged, and facing teams ahead of them in the standings at this time is ideal. 

On Thursday night, the Bruins welcomed the New York Rangers to town. The winner of this game would occupy sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference. This was also the first meeting of the year between these two teams, so there was no measuring stick to go by this season.

The Rangers, last season's Eastern Conference representative in the Stanley Cup Final, are continuing to push opponents to the brink with their deep roster. As for the Bruins, they have new-found depth themselves in the form of an 18-year-old rookie rounding out the top line. Regardless, "Original Six" matchups are always intriguing. 

Speaking of said 18-year-old, B's general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that rookie David Pastrnak WILL stay with the team for the remainder of the year. So what if they have to use up one year of his rookie deal? He recorded four goals in two games and this team has not seen a spark like this all season. They needed him, as evident by their current hot streak. Now, the rest of the Eastern Conference is on notice: The Bruins are coming. 

With the Bruins sending out the same lineup as they did on Tuesday, they looked to keep any superstition in tact during this winning streak. 

The B's hopped out to a 2-0 lead; Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci were the goal scorers, the top guns for the Black and Gold. Aside from their offense, they were stellar on the penalty kill throughout the first two periods. The Rangers have excellent depth and they produced first-class scoring chances, so for Boston to keep them in check was no small feat. It also helped that Tuukka Rask was on his game. 

In the third period, the Bruins imposed their will from a physical standpoint. Whether it was dropping the gloves--there were two occasions on this night--or standing strong in the defensive zone, the Rangers just could not find any openings to get back into this game. At the end of the night, the B's tallied one more goal to give themselves the 3-0 victory. #fiveinarow

The Bruins will round out the week on Saturday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask: He stopped all 30 shots that he faced on this night. With all the hype on the recent goal output by this team, we forgot just how good this guy really is in net. 

Black Star: Kevan Miller...He really did not impose his will on some of the undersized New York forwards, which was somewhat surprising.

Game Forty-Five Box Score 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Game 44: Class of the East

A lot has happened within the Boston Bruins' organization over the last several days. 

To start, rookie David Pastrnak emerged with a breakout performance over the Philadelphia Flyers this past Saturday afternoon. His two-goal outing proved to be the difference in the contest. For a team that needs offense, it will be hard to send him back down to Providence. We still have some time before the decision arises. 

Also, Patrice Bergeron was selected to his first All-Star game. As the only B's representative during the All-Star weekend, Bergy leads the team in assists (21) and points (31). He will enjoy a great weekend over in Columbus and represent Boston with class.

Lastly, and more importantly, the Bruins are on a three-game winning streak. They wanted to continue that trend with the complete team that they finally have. They began a three-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

There is a reason why the Lightning are the best team in the Eastern Conference: prolific offense. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson--who did not skate in this game--are all playing at a filthy level (in a good way), and this was shaping up to be a great first meeting of the season between these two teams. This game was going to be special. 

The team announced before the game that they had sent Seth Griffith back down to Providence and that Simon Gagne will not return to the team this year due to personal reasons. 

Tuukka Rask got the start in net for the B's as he opposed Ben Bishop. Just like the goaltender, the rest of the lineup remained the same for the Black and Gold. 

Game time!

In the first period, the Bruins outworked the Bolts by producing more of the scoring chances. However, the teams managed to record only one goal each despite the lopsided play in the neutral zone. Naturally, Stamkos was the culprit for the Lightning. Brad Marchand was the goal scorer for the Bruins, which was poetic justice after being called for a goaltender interference penalty just minutes prior. 

The second period was all about killing penalties for the Bruins. In what looked like a daunting task, Boston shut down the most potent offense in the league...and they did it in short-handed fashion multiple times. That momentum shifted in the B's favor over the last 30 minutes of the game as they beat Bishop for three unanswered goals--two of those goals were scored by Pastrnak, which brings his goal total to four in two games. 

In the third period, the teams started to play with an edge and ugly attitude. Several minor penalties were dished out to both sides for various extra-curricular antics. Stamkos, when the hot heads settled, pulled the Lightning within one late in the final 20 minutes. It would not matter on this night. The Bruins held on for the 4-3 victory and extended their winning streak to four games. #climbingthestandings 

The Bruins will continue their grueling week on Thursday night when they host the New York Rangers. 

Gold Star: David Pastrnak...With two goals, a plus-four rating, and seven shots on goal, the kid needs to stay with the team. The Bruins have not had a spark like this all season. 

Black Star: Daniel Paille...What a disappointing season he has had thus far. His minus-two rating was tied for worst on the team in this one.

Bergeron Reacts to First All-Star Game Selection

Game Forty-Four Box Score

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Game 43: The Kid Has Arrived

Everyone, do not look now; The Boston Bruins are on a winning streak. Albeit a two-game trend in the right direction, this team needed to start turning things around. 

However, gloating will only get you in trouble and this team is better than that. There is no need to get excited over two games. The only option is to put it behind you, learn from mistakes, and keep on playing hard.

They were searching for three-in-a-row on Saturday afternoon when they traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers for a brief road trip. 

The Flyers are always up for the stiff test that dresses in Black and Gold on a daily/nightly basis. The similarities between these two squads are scary. With that being said, Philly is trending in the opposite direction yet again, but they have a roster full of talented players. Jakub Voracek leads the entire league in points, and Claude Giroux is an All-Star caliber player each and every year. Point blank: Watch out for their top guns. 

For this game, Tuukka Rask returned to protecting the cage for the B's. Loui Eriksson also made his return to the lineup after missing the last game with a hand injury. 

It did not take long for the action to start--Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Nick Schultz seven seconds into the game after Schultz put a big hit on Daniel Paille. Due to McQuaid picking up 17 minutes worth of penalty minutes, he missed most of the opening period. As for the actual hockey component, the opening 20 minutes were hard and physical, but had some flashes from an offensive standpoint. B's rookie David Pastrnak recorded his first-career NHL goal on the power play to put his team up by one. 

The thing that stood out early was the eagerness of the Bruins' forecheck and their pressure on the Flyers that forced them to make bad decisions with that puck. That trend continued into the very fast-moving second period. The score remained the same heading into the final 20 minutes. What was interesting is that the coaches constantly switched up the lines to keep Philadelphia off guard. The third period was all Boston. Pastrnak popped in another tally (he is making a strong case to stay with the team this year) and Chris Kelly added a short-handed goal. For what it is worth, Zdeno Chara recorded two assists in this game. The Bruins smothered the Flyers, making it difficult to generate any quality scoring chance. Layers on defense and excellent goaltending down the stretch preserved the 3-1 victory for Boston. #threeinarow

The Bruins will return to the TD Garden next Tuesday to begin a three-game homestand. Up first will be the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He stopped 24 shots on 25 attempts in a game where he needed to come up big. Overall, a solid performance in net. 

Black Star: Reilly Smith...It seemed that he benefited the least from the line juggling, but he has not looked great over the last few games. He needs to start scoring goals again.

Game Forty-Three Box Score

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Games 41-42: It Does Not Get Any Easier

Welcome to the official midway point of the NHL season!

Three-straight losses; Does it get any worse?

Well, it definitely does not get any easier. 

The teams that the Boston Bruins lost to over the last few days were beatable opponents. The point of rock bottom came on Sunday afternoon when they fell in a shootout to the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes.

With that being said, how can you follow up that performance with a showdown against one of the BEST teams in the Eastern Conference? No need for an answer because it is more rhetorical than anything. 

With new line combinations from top to bottom, the Bruins continued this week with another back-to-back set. They took on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, a team that recently acquired David Perron in a trade to solidify their forward depth. As if they did not have enough fire power....

David Pastrnak joined the team, but skated only in the second game. Hopefully, this will provide a long-term jolt to the B's offense.

After both teams notched first-period goals (Zdeno Chara netted the B's tally), the Penguins dominated the neutral zone and along the boards. It was Patrice Bergeron who put the B's on top though, capitalizing on great defense and solid goaltending from Tuukka Rask. Once the Pens tied the game early in the third period, the score remained idle as this one turned out to be a fourth-straight overtime game for the Bruins. With the grace of God, the B's FINALLY broke through and recorded their first win in over a week after Bergeron deflected a shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The final score was 3-2 in favor of Boston. #twopoints

Up next for the B's were the New Jersey Devils back at home. Traveling back from Pittsburgh on short notice definitely takes a toll, but when your opponent's top player is almost in his mid-40's (Jaromir Jagr), you would think that would be a winnable game.

Loui Eriksson did not play in this game due to a hand injury, so he was replaced by Jordan Caron. Niklas Svedberg got the start in net for Boston. 

Boy, the Devils are the epitome of the word "boring." It is not entirely their fault, but the player composition and the coaching style is horrible. And this was the perfect chance for the Bruins to start a winning streak. 

The B's COMPLETELY owned the Devils up and down the ice. They ended up getting the 3-0 victory, but it was jaw-dropping that they only popped in three goals. Also, the Bruins possessed the puck inside the New Jersey zone for over 10 minutes in the opening period. From there, they just locked down defensively. Yes, they were that dominant (shots favored Boston 43-14). 

After all of this, the B's are now in the playoff structure.  

Now that we are kicking off the second half of the season, the Bruins conclude the week on the road with another matinee game. They will take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon. 

Gold Star (combined): Milan Lucic...The power forward is back. He notched two goals and two assists over these two games, plus playing the physical role. That is what we like to see. 

Black Star (combined): Craig Cunningham...Virtually non-existent. The Bruins might as well have dressed seven defensemen. He no longer fits in with this team.

Game Forty-One Box Score

Game Forty-Two Box Score

Recap of Fight Between Bruins' Teammates

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Games 39-40: Loaded Weekend to Start 2015

Just like that, we are delving head first into a new calendar year. For the players, coaches, and management above, establishing a "New Year's resolution" for this Boston Bruins team would be an understatement. 

Time is of the essence at this point for the B's. They are still hanging tight in the Atlantic Division, but they need to scale and leapfrog a couple of teams to get into the playoffs. It has been widely debated whether or not the Bruins will add some help. Honestly, enough talking about. We will just wait it out and see what happens.

All they can do is play the schedule. The Bruins closed out the week (and three-game homestand) on Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators for a third-straight divisional game. 

With the return of Adam McQuaid to the lineup (who missed the last 18 games with a broken thumb), the Bruins are healthy. Could the B's accumulate points in all three games this week? Boston grabbed points in both meetings with the Sens this year (1-0-1), so expectations were high. 

Even though the first period was scoreless, the Bruins had two more shots on goal and won 10 more face-offs than the Senators. Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson had to stand on his skates early. From a conservative approach to a physical onslaught, the team picked it up in the second period. 

The B's and Sens each popped in a goal in the second period; Torey Krug scored for Boston on the power play, his eighth goal of the season. As for the last 20 minutes, the teams alternated scores again. Tuukka Rask was ridiculous in this game, making 23 big saves. The Bruins, a team that killed two separate five-on-three power play chances by the Senators, dropped this game in overtime. Bobby Ryan (again) netted the game-winning goal for Ottawa. 

After the game concluded, the Black and Gold headed down to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes for another matinee game on Sunday afternoon. Jordan Staal is finally healthy for the Canes after missing most of the season with a lower-body injury, so the B's needed all four lines to roll in this one. Depth and offsetting matchups were key for this game. 

The lineup remained the same for the Bruins in this one from front to back.

The Hurricanes are the second-worst team in the league, yet still grabbed an early lead. The Bruins only managed three shots on goal in the first period. It took awhile for the Bruins to settle the puck and generate some plays because they looked so disorganized. Once Patrice Bergeron tied the game, the third period was up for grabs. 

The lack of desperation was evident for Boston (only two shots on goal), and let another game go into overtime. This time around, the B's lost in a shootout to the WORST team in the Eastern Conference. Boston falls to 1-5-1 in second games of back-to-back sets. 

The Bruins will play another back-to-back set on Wednesday and Thursday night against a couple of Metropolitan Division opponents. They will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils, respectively.

Gold Star (combined): David Krejci...He was one of the more consistent players on the ice. He actually played well in the defensive zone as well to go along with the two assists he had on Saturday. 

Black Star (combined): Milan Lucic...Demotion and lack of production is an ugly combination.

Game Thirty-Nine Box Score

Game Forty Box Score