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Hurricanes take 2-0 series lead, lose Raanta in Game 2

Sebastian Aho tied a franchise record with his fourth multi-goal game in a, 5-2, victory for the Carolina Hurricanes as they beat the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup Wednesday night at PNC Arena.

Meanwhile, each team lost a key player to an injury and there were 14 combined power plays in a game that had a little bit of everything good, bad and ugly.

Antti Raanta (1-0, 0.88 goals-against average, .978 save percentage in two games played) made six saves on six shots against before he was taken out of the game due to injury, while Pyotr Kochetkov (1-0, 2.31 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in one game played) turned aside 30 out of 32 shots faced in the win for the Hurricanes.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (1-1, 4.17 goals-against average, .860 save percentage in two games played), made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Wednesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Hampus Lindholm to the second pairing with Brandon Carlo.

Boston’s list of healthy scratches went untouched from Game 1 to Game 2 with Mike Reilly, Chris Wagner, Josh Brown, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser watching from the press box at PNC Arena.

Nino Niederreiter tripped Carlo and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 3:17 of the first period, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage.

Moments later, Tony DeAngelo checked Erik Haula without the puck and cut a rut to the sin bin for interference as a result at 7:28, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short about 19 seconds later.

David Pastrnak caught Raanta with a forearm to the head while trying to avoid a major collision with the goaltender as Raanta worked to clear the puck outside the crease and Pastrnak tried to come to a stop without bowling over the netminder– completely flattening him in the process.

That said, the on-ice officials ruled it a five-minute major for goaltender interference before reducing Pastrnak’s infraction to a minor penalty upon video review.

Raanta was bleeding from a cut on his face and took some time to be helped off the ice by a trainer, but was Pastrnak’s force enough to cause the inside of Raanta’s mask to cut the goaltender or Vincent Trocheck’s accidental bump in the side of his teammate’s head as he skated by while Raanta was down on the ice pulling his mask off do more damage on top of the incidental contact with Pastrnak?

This is the type of thing that’s going on inside the minds of the on-ice officials alongside their interpretation of the rulebook.

Carolina replaced Raanta with Kochetkov and the Bruins managed to kill Pastrnak’s minor for goaltender interference at 7:47 of the first period.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, however, Jordan Staal broke free from Derek Forbort and sent a pass across the ice through the slot to Jesper Fast (1) for a one-timer goal– giving the Hurricanes a, 1-0, lead as a result at 13:03 of the first period.

Staal (1) and Jaccob Slavin (2) tallied the assists on Fast’s goal.

A couple minutes later, Aho (1) tipped a shot from the point by DeAngelo past Ullmark on the stick side to extend the Canes’ lead to two-goals.

DeAngelo (2) and Slavin (3) notched the assists and the Hurricanes led, 2-0, at 15:30.

Patrice Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing at 18:54 and the Bruins managed to make the kill on the infraction.

Late in the period, however, Charlie Coyle and Niederreiter went to the box with coincidental minors at 19:53, followed by a scrum as the first intermission began– yielding roughing minors for Haula, Carlo and Seth Jarvis at 20:00.

Boston would be shorthanded to begin the middle frame.

Carolina, meanwhile, led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-10, in shots on goal after 20 minutes of action.

The Hurricanes also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (5-0), giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Bruins led in hits (18-16) entering the first intermission.

Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Carolina confirmed that Raanta (upper body) would not return to the night’s action with a tweet prior to the start of the middle frame.

While on the power play, Aho (2) blasted a one-timer past Ullmark low on the glove side to give the Hurricanes a, 3-0, lead at 1:10 of the second period.

DeAngelo (3) and Teuvo Teräväinen (1) had the assists on Aho’s power-play goal– giving the Finnish forward his fourth career multi-goal postseason game– tying Kevin Dineed for the most in Hartford Whalers/Hurricanes franchise history in the process.

Trent Frederic checked Teräväinen shortly thereafter in frustration and picked up an interference minor at 3:39, though the Canes failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage this time around.

Andrei Svechnikov was penalized for holding at 14:36 and it didn’t take Boston long to get on the scoreboard with a power-play goal from Bergeron (1) after he sent the puck back to the point whereby a shot attempt went wide, caromed off the glass back to Brad Marchand in the slot before Bergeron got a piece of it from close range.

Marchand (1) had the only assist on Bergeron’s 16th career postseason power-play goal– tying him for the third-most in Bruins franchise history with Johnny Bucyk in the process– and Boston trailed, 3-1, at 14:36 of the second period as a result.

A few minutes later, Svechnikov made a big hit behind the goal line on Lindholm– knocking the Bruins defender to the ice and leaving him in a daze as he was assisted by a trainer and teammate, Jake DeBrusk, to the tunnel.

Carlo went after Svechnikov in defense of his injured blue line partner and picked up a pair of roughing minors, while Svechnikov only received two minutes for roughing at 17:11 of the second period, rendering Carolina on the power play as a result.

Less than a minute later, Marchand and Kochetkov exchanged pleasantries and yielded slashing penalties at 17:52, followed by a holding infraction on Forbort at 18:07.

Carolina’s ensuing 5-on-3 advantage didn’t last long as Niederreiter (2) had just enough mustard on a shot that it trickled through the crease and over the goal line to give the Hurricanes another three-goal lead, 4-1, at 18:52.

Trocheck (2) and DeAngelo (4) tallied the assists on Niederreiter’s power-play goal and the Canes took their, 4-1, lead into the second intermission after 40 minutes of play.

Carolina led in shots on goal, 25-21, including a, 14-11, advantage in the second period alone, while dominating in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Boston, on the other hand, led in hits, 31-30, after two periods on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0-for-3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Svechnikov and McAvoy collided in the open ice and rendered the Bruins defender to his knees amid a brief stoppage.

He did not miss any shifts, however, as DeBrusk received a roughing minor for expressing his displeasure with Svechnikov and the B’s tweeted that Lindholm (upper body) would not return to the night’s action at 1:52 of the third period.

Carolina had another brief 5-on-3 advantage after Forbort caught Teräväinen with a high stick and drew blood at 3:04.

Forbort skated to the box with a double-minor penalty and Boston somehow made the kill.

Moments later, the Hurricanes had too many skaters on the ice and were assessed a bench minor at 8:27, but the B’s couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, however, Bergeron (2) notched his second goal of the game on an inadvertent deflection off of his right skate behind Kochetkov on a shot by McAvoy from the top of the left circle.

McAvoy (2) had the only assist on the goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-2, at 12:21 of the third period, while Bergeron (47) surpassed Phil Esposito (46) for the second-most postseason goals in franchise history– trailing only Cam Neely (55) for first overall in a Boston uniform.

With about 4:30 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled a page out of the book of head coaching as taught by Patrick Roy and yanked Ullmark out of the crease for an extra attacker.

Brett Pesce caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:49 and the B’s went on a power play as a result, but the Hurricanes’ penalty kill came and went unscathed and unchallenged.

After a stoppage with 1:15 remaining, Cassidy used his timeout to rally his skaters, but it was to no avail.

Carolina picked up a rebound that made its way all the way into their attacking zone and Niederreiter (3) put the icing on the cake with his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net to make it, 5-2, for the Hurricanes at 19:19.

Svechnikov (1) had the only assist on the goal.

At the final horn, another scrum ensued and only Forbort was dealt a roughing minor at 20:00 of the third period, but it didn’t matter in the end result as Carolina pulled off a, 5-2, victory and a 2-0 series lead.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-34, and had a, 17-9, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (13-10) and hits (45-33), while the Hurricanes left their own ice leading in giveaways (12-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Carolina went 2-for-9 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1-for-5 on the power play Wednesday night in Game 2.

For the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins trail 2-0 in a series heading back to home ice for Game 3.

Teams that lead a best-of-seven series 2-0 go on to win the series about 87% of the time per Hockey-Reference.

The Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden in Boston. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on TNT in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS2 in Canada.

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Boston surpasses Tampa in the Atlantic with Pastrnak’s hat trick

For the first time this season, the Boston Bruins are in a divisional playoff spot after David Pastrnak recorded his 12th career hat trick in a, 3-2, victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at TD Garden.

Pastrnak tied John Bucyk for the third-most hat tricks in a Bruins uniform in the process, trailing only Phil Esposito (26) and Cam Neely (14), while Jeremy Swayman (19-8-3, 2.09 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 31 games played) made 22 saves on 24 shots against in the win for Boston.

Tampa netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy (32-14-4, 2.39 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 50 games played) stopped 36 out of 39 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 40-19-5 (85 points) overall and moved ahead of the Lightning in the standings– taking over 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, despite being tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs in points for 2nd (Toronto has played in one game fewer than Boston, however).

The Bolts fell to 39-18-6 (84 points) on the season and dropped to 4th place in the Atlantic, but in command of the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference– four points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the wild card race.

The B’s were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Patrice Bergeron (elbow) on Thursday as Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters ahead of the game that Bergeron was not cleared and is likely to return Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders.

Cassidy made one change to his lineup– scratching Mike Reilly in favor of dressing Hampus Lindholm in his Boston debut alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing.

Reilly joined Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown and Anton Blidh in the press box as healthy scratches against Tampa.

Erik Cernak caught Tomáš Nosek with a high stick and drew blood– yielding a four-minute double minor for high sticking at 1:20 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the resulting extended power play and presented the Lightning with the next opportunity on the skater advantage after Craig Smith inadvertently caught Victor Hedman with a high stick at 5:17 of the first period.

Tampa didn’t score on the resulting power play, however.

Late in the period, Cernak cut a rut back to the penalty box for interference at 14:19, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside unconverted.

Through one period, the score remained tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins holding a, 12-8, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Bolts held the advantage in giveaways (3-1) and hits (11-10) entering the first intermission.

Both teams had four takeaways each, while the Lightning were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Mikhail Sergachev caught Taylor Hall with a high stick at 6:04 of the second period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Instead, Tampa scored a shorthanded goal– just the sixth shorthanded goal against allowed by the Bruins this season– as Brad Marchand botched a play in the neutral zone, which led to a fast breakout the other direction for the Lightning before Ondrej Palat setup Brandon Hagel (22) for a one-timer goal– beating Swayman while crashing the slot.

Palat (21) had the only assist on the goal as the Bolts took a, 1-0, lead at 7:11 of the second period.

It was also the second shorthanded goal allowed in as many games for Boston.

The B’s answered back relatively quickly, however, as Lindholm setup Erik Haula for an indirect pass up ice to Pastrnak– sending Pastrnak (34) in on a breakaway before going to his backhand and elevating a shot past Vasilevskiy on the blocker side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Haula (20) and Lindholm (18) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the game at 9:55 of the second period.

Lindholm’s secondary assist marked his first point as a Bruin, which made him the first defender to record a point in his B’s debut since McAvoy (1-1–2) did so in 2017-18 with Boston.

Moments later, Swayman was assessed an infraction for tripping Anthony Cirelli as Cirelli skated past the Bruins goaltender and collided with Swayman’s blocker as Swayman made a save.

Interesting.

Nevertheless, Boston was shorthanded at 14:47, but managed to make the kill and Smith (who served the minor) was freed from the box without issue.

Late in the period, Nick Paul and Brandon Carlo exchanged pleasantries after a stoppage in play and each took a trip to their respective penalty box with roughing minors– yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 17:57 as a result.

Tampa had a rare 4-on-3 power play less than a minute later when Pastrnak tripped Sergachev at 18:47.

The Lightning did not capitalize on their skater advantage, however.

After 40 minutes of action in Boston, the score remained tied, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading the Lightning in shots on goal, 29-14, including a, 17-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (10-8), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (55-45), while the Bolts led in giveaways (7-3).

Tampa was 0/3 and Boston was 0/4 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Nikita Kucherov slashed Derek Forbort 48 seconds into the third period, but the Bruins failed to convert on the ensuing power play.

Tampa caught Boston in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Kucherov snagged a rebound and dropped a pass back to Brayden Point, who then sent the rubber biscuit to Steven Stamkos (28) as he crashed the net and scored on Swayman– giving the Lightning a, 2-1, lead at 3:51 of the third period as a result.

Point (23) and Kucherov (23) tallied the assists on the goal.

Almost five minutes later, Pastrnak (35) tied things up, 2-2, courtesy of some great hand-eye coordination to settle a pass from Haula while spinning and working a backhand through Vasilevskiy’s short side along the post at 8:17.

Haula (21) and Connor Clifton (5) tabbed the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game as the Bruins grabbed momentum in their favor and stayed hungry.

Forbort and Pat Maroon were assessed roughing minors at 9:21 and after two minutes of 4-on-4 action, things settled on the ice a bit.

Late in the third, Tampa tried to clear the zone but an errant puck bounced off of Cirelli and was kept in Boston’s attacking zone as Haula worked the puck to the front of the net on a shot with purpose to generate a rebound.

Hall had a brief chance and made contact, but it was Pastrnak (36) who buried the rubber biscuit into the twine for the hat trick goal and a, 3-2, lead at 15:50 of the third period.

Hall (33) and Haula (22) had the assists as Boston pulled ahead for the first time late Thursday night and never looked back.

Pastrnak’s hat trick marked the 12th of his career and sixth this season for the Bruins, while Haula capped off his first career three-assist game in the processs.

With 1:08 remaining in the action, Jon Cooper, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but the Lightning couldn’t muster anything else past Swayman– not even after the Bolts used their timeout after a stoppage with 56.4 seconds left to draw up a plan to at least force overtime.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 39-24, despite both teams amassing 10 shots on goal each in the third period alone.

The Lightning left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12) and giveaways (9-6), while the Bruins finished the action leading in hits (29-26) and faceoff win% (57-44).

The B’s went 0/5 on the power play while the Bolts finished Thursday night 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Tampa has now lost six out of their last eight games, while Boston is 13-2-1 in their last 16 games and improved to 2-0-1 against the Lightning this season with one more game left in their regular season series in Tampa on April 8th.

The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (5-3-1 at home) when tied after one period, 11-12-3 (7-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 10-4-0 (6-1-0 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bolts dropped to 11-6-1 (5-4-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 23-3-4 (12-1-2 on the road) when scoring first and 10-4-1 (5-3-0 on the road) when tied after the second period in 2021-22.

The B’s continue their five-game homestand (1-0-0) Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders.

Boston hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils next Tuesday and Thursday to finish the month of March before the Columbus Blue Jackets make a trip to TD Garden on April 2nd.

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Hall flys Bruins over Jets on the road, 4-2

Taylor Hall’s power-play goal late in the third period went on to become the game-winning goal after Charlie McAvoy added a shorthanded empty net insurance goal in a, 4-2, victory for the Boston Bruins over the Winnipeg Jets Friday night at Canada Life Centre.

Linus Ullmark (19-9-2, 2.72 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 31 games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against in the win for Boston.

Winnipeg goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck (21-22-9, 2.99 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 52 games played), turned aside 41 out of 44 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 38-19-5 (81 points) overall and remained in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Jets, meanwhile, fell to 28-24-10 (66 points) on the season and stuck in 6th place in the Central Division.

With the win on Friday, the B’s swept their regular season series against Winnipeg 2-0-0– just as they had done in 2019-20, when the two clubs last met in the regular season prior to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) and Patrice Bergeron (upper body) on Friday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple minor changes to his lineup prior to puck drop.

Jack Studnicka centered the first line with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek was returned to his usual role as the fourth line center with Curtis Lazar returning to Nosek’s right side and Anton Blidh joining Jack Ahcan in the press box as a healthy scratch.

During the game, however, Cassidy swapped Nosek with Erik Haula– promoting the former to the second line between Hall and David Pastrnak, while relegating Haula to the fourth line with Nick Foligno and Lazar.

Pastrnak, meanwhile, suited up for his 500th career National Hockey League game on Friday.

The 25-year-old failed to record a point against the Jets, but has 233-255–488 totals in 500 career games nevertheless and was Boston’s first round pick (25th overall) in 2014.

Prior to Friday night’s, 4-2, win, the Bruins’ last seven games against Winnipeg were all decided by one goal– with the B’s going 4-2-1 in that span.

Nikolaj Ehlers had a breakaway early in the action that came to an abrupt end thanks to a stick in the way from Mike Reilly, yielding a penalty shot for Ehlers after he was tripped by Reilly at 4:44 of the first period.

The Winnipeg sniper strolled into the attacking zone down the left-center before firing a shot into Ullmark’s pads.

Midway through the period, Matt Grzelcyk caught Paul Stastny with a high stick and presented the Jets with the night’s first power play at 10:13.

Winnipeg failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage and subsequently presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 14:59 of the first period after Blake Wheeler slashed DeBrusk.

The Bruins did not convert on their first chance on the power play.

Pastrnak shortly made an early exit for the first intermission after appearing to step on the puck while retrieving it in his own zone and awkwardly falling while clutching at his core.

No. 88 in black and gold would return for the middle frame, however.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins and Jets remained tied, 0-0, despite Boston attainting a, 14-11, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (8-6), while Winnipeg led in takeaways (6-2), giveaways (2-1), hits (17-6) and faceoff win percentage (58-42).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Marchand and DeBrusk entered the attacking zone early in the second period and played a little pitch and catch on a give-and-go back to Marchand (25) for a layup goal to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 4:42.

DeBrusk (11) and Studnicka (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s 344th career goal– tying Cam Neely for the sixth-most goals in Bruins franchise history (Bergeron is fifth with 392 goals and counting thus far).

Marchand also joined Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk as the only Bruins in franchise history to record nine 25-goal seasons on the effort.

Less than a few minutes later, Boston’s third line mustered their way to the net as Charlie Coyle drove the puck to the slot before slipping the rubber biscuit over to Trent Frederic for a two-goal lead as Frederic (5) worked the puck around Hellebuyck.

Coyle (20) and Craig Smith (15) had the assists on Frederic’s goal and the B’s took a, 2-0, lead at 7:12 of the second period.

Moments later, Haula didn’t make an effort to stop before colliding with Hellebuyck and cutting a rut to the penalty box with a goaltender interference infraction as a result at 9:37.

Winnipeg failed to convert on the ensuing power play and had another chance on the skater advantage at 13:36 when McAvoy tripped Neal Pionk.

This time, however, the Jets wouldn’t last long on the power play before Pierre-Luc Dubois cross checked Derek Forbort and took a trip to the sin bin at 14:05– resulting in 4-on-4 action for a span of 1:31 before the Bruins had an abbreviated power play that ultimately went by the wayside.

Through 40 minutes of action, however, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 36-15, including a, 22-4, advantage for the B’s in the second period alone– their most shots on goal in any second period this season.

Winnipeg led in giveaways (6-4), hits (26-14) and faceoff win% (52-49), while both teams had 11 blocked shots and eight takeaways each.

The Jets were 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Ullmark was no match for Adam Lowry’s (10) deflection on Evgeny Svechnikov’s toe-drag snap shot that cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, at 2:29 of the third period and Winnipeg surged with momentum as the Jets came to life to begin the final frame.

Not even two minutes later, Ehlers (17) received a give-and-go from Kyle Connor and blew past Grzelcyk before beating Ullmark and hitting the twine while Brandon Carlo was left helpless as the only defender back.

Connor (35) had the only assist on Ehlers’ goal and the Jets tied the game, 2-2, at 3:54 of the third period as a result.

About a few minutes later, Pastrnak hooked Dubois and was assessed a minor infraction at 6:59, but the Bruins managed to make the kill.

Logan Stanley made a brief appearance in the penalty box for interference at 11:57, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

Finally, Brenden Dillon sent the puck over the glass and out of play in his own zone for an automatic delay of game minor at 14:31.

This time the Bruins made quick and easy work of the ensuing skater advantage as Hall (13) followed up on a rebound with a backhand shot past Hellebuyck to give Boston a, 3-2, lead at 15:13 of the third period.

Coyle (21) and McAvoy (32) had the assists on Hall’s power-play goal.

With 1:37 remaining in the action, Jets interim head coach, Dave Lowry, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

What’s more, Haula tripped Andrew Copp at 18:34 of the third period and gave Winnipeg a de facto 6-on-4 advantage once Hellebuyck made another trip out of the crease after the Jets ensured themselves of not losing a faceoff and giving up an easy goal to the Bruins who could not ice the puck given their shorthanded status.

Winnipeg used their timeout to make sure their skaters were all on the same page in their last-ditch effort.

About 30 seconds after Hellebuyck raced to the bench for the second time, McAvoy (8) sealed the deal on a shorthanded empty net goal to give the Bruins a, 4-2, victory at 19:29 of the third period.

Nosek (11) and Coyle (22) had the assists on the goal as all three Boston skaters selflessly tried to do everything they could to let one of their teammates score the insurance goal.

Josh Morrissey had been tripped at the other end of the rink prior to McAvoy’s goal, but there was no penalty called– drawing the ire of both Morrissey and Dubois and resulting in ten-minute misconducts for the two players as something they had said or done in protest crossed the lines for the on-ice officials at 19:29.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 45-29, despite trailing Winnipeg, 14-9, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins left Canada Life Centre leading in blocked shots (17-15), giveaways (11-10) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Jets led in hits (33-19).

Winnipeg finished 0/5 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage Friday night.

The B’s improved to 11-5-2 (7-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period, 28-7-2 (16-3-1 on the road) when scoring first and 26-1-3 (16-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Jets, meanwhile, fell to 13-9-4 (8-6-0 at home) when tied after the first period, 10-18-4 (5-11-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 4-18-2 (1-11-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins wrap up their four-game road trip (2-1-0) Monday night in Montréal, which also happens to be the same day as the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline (March 21st).

Boston returns home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24th and begin a five-game homestand to conclude March and start the month of April.

The New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets will visit TD Garden on March 26th, 28th, 31st and April 2nd, respectively.

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Smith’s hat trick catapults Bruins over Golden Knights in Vegas, 5-2

Craig Smith notched his third career hat trick en route to a, 5-2, victory for the Boston Bruins over the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Jeremy Swayman (14-7-3, 1.95 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 25 games played) made 34 saves on 36 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Vegas goaltender, Robin Lehner (20-14-1, 2.85 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 36 games played), stopped 31 out of 35 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 33-18-4 (70 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the first wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, the Golden Knights fell to 30-21-4 (64 points) overall and dropped to 4th in the Pacific Division and in command of the second wild card in the Western Conference.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy made no changes to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 4-3, loss on the road to the Anaheim Ducks, leaving Anton Blidh and Jack Ahcan as healthy scratches while the Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) and Curtis Lazar (upper body).

Zach Whitecloud slashed Jake DeBrusk and presented Boston with the night’s first power play at 6:40 of the first period, but the Bruins were unsuccessful in converting on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, however, the B’s struck first as Trent Frederic entered the zone and dropped a pass back to Smith (7) for the catch and release goal to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead.

Frederic (4) and Derek Forbort (6) tallied the assists on Smith’s first goal of the game at 13:18 of the first period.

Heading into the first intermission, the Golden Knights led in shots on goal, 12-10, while Boston led in faceoff win percentage, 53-47.

Vegas had yet to see any action on the skater advantage entering the middle frame, while the Bruins were 0/1 in special teams play.

Erik Haula tripped up Keegan Kolesar to present the Golden Knights with their first chance on the power play at 2:32 of the second period, but the skater advantage went by the wayside as Boston’s penalty kill managed to kill off Haula’s minor infraction.

Midway through the period, Smith (8) connected on a pass from Charlie Coyle through the slot for his second goal of the game to extend Boston’s lead to two-goals.

Coyle (15) and Frederic (5) notched the assists as the Bruins pulled ahead, 2-0, at 11:03 of the second period.

Late in the period an errant puck that was almost an indirect pass off the boards led Jack Eichel (2) through the neutral zone and on a breakaway whereby he slipped the puck through Swayman’s five-hole on a pump fake– letting the puck glide off his stick blade and over the goal line without putting much effort into a shot.

Eichel’s goal cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, on an unassisted effort at 17:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 26-25– courtesy of a, 16-13, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Vegas held the advantage in faceoff win%, 51-49, while both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tomáš Nosek tripped Brett Howden at 1:59 of the third period, but the Golden Knights weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Nearly midway into the final frame, David Pastrnak (30) riffled a shot with eyes through Lehner as the rubber biscuit just trickled over the goal line to give Boston a, 3-1, lead at 8:14 of the third period.

Frederic (6) completed a three-point night as a result with the primary assist on the goal, while Haula (16) notched the secondary assist.

The two teams traded goals late in the period as Smith (9) completed his first hat trick since May 1, 2021, against the Buffalo Sabres (a, 6-2, win in Boston) as the Bruins worked the puck around the horn in the attacking zone before Whitecloud bumped into his own goaltender– rendering Lehner with an attempt to draw a call, feigning interference, with his back turned as Smith buried the loose puck.

Matt Grzelcyk (17) and Brandon Carlo (6) had the assists on Smith’s third goal of the game as Boston took a, 4-1, lead at 14:39 of the third period.

Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer, pulled Lehner for an extra attacker with 4:52 remaining on the clock and about a couple minutes later, Vegas cut the deficit from three goals to two.

Jonathan Marchessault (22) let go of a blast from the circle with net front traffic screening Swayman as the puck hit the back of the twine.

Alex Pietrangelo (22) had the only assist on the goal as the Golden Knights trailed, 4-2, at 16:38.

Less than two minutes later, Pastrnak (31) waltzed into the attacking zone to put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal– giving Boston a three-goal lead once more, 5-2, at 18:20.

Haula (17) had the only assist as Pastrnak finished the night with a pair of goals– tying Bobby Orr in the process for the seventh-most seasons with at least 30 goals in a Boston uniform.

Both Orr and Pastrnak have had five seasons with at least 30 goals, trailing Rick Middleton (eight), Phil Esposito (eight), Johnny Bucyk (seven), Patrice Bergeron (six), Cam Neely (six) and Peter McNab (six) in the process.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-2, and taken two more points on the road in the midst of their six-game road trip (4-1-0 in that span).

Both teams finished the night with 36 shots on goal each, despite Vegas leading Boston, 11-10, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Bruins left T-Mobile Arena leading in blocked shots (20-18) and hits (28-25), while the Golden Knights exited their own building with the advantage in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (56-44).

Vegas went 0/2 and Boston went 0/1 on the power play on Thursday.

The B’s improved to 23-7-1 (13-3-1 on the road) when scoring first, 21-2-1 (12-1-1 on the road) when leading after one and 23-1-2 (15-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Golden Knights, meanwhile, fell to 7-11-2 (4-8-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-9-0 (3-4-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-13-2 (2-6-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins conclude their six-game road trip (4-1-0) Saturday night in Columbus before returning home next Monday to start a three-game homestand and host the Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago visits Boston next Thursday and the Arizona Coyotes make their trip to TD Garden next Saturday before the B’s hit the road again.

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NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes storm Bruins, 7-1, in road victory

Nearly 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Willie O’Ree was called up from the Québec Aces minor professional hockey team and suited up for the Boston Bruins at Montréal Forum in what became a, 3-0, shutout for the Bruins against the Montréal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958.

The next day, O’Ree read in the paper that he had been the first Black player in National Hockey League history.

He played in the following game with Boston, a 6-2, loss to Montréal in his Boston Garden debut before he was sent back to the minors for the remainder of the 1957-58 season.

In a, 3-2, win against the Canadiens on Jan. 1, 1961, at Boston Garden, O’Ree scored his first career NHL goal– the eventual game-winner at 10:07 of the third period.

In total, O’Ree amassed 14 points (four goals, ten assists) in 45 career NHL games with the Bruins from 1958-61– paving the way for many Black players since then while being subjected to the brunt of racial epithets from fans, players and coaches alike.

In some tragic sense, not much has changed within the culture of the sport and society at large.

No one is a product of their time. Ignorance, inequality and racism are always ignorance, inequality and racism.

O’Ree’s hero, Herb Carnegie, was never given a proper chance at making the NHL.

Carnegie received a similar sham of a tryout that the Boston Red Sox gave Robinson on April 16, 1945, only this time it was at training camp in a different sport with the New York Rangers in Sept. 1948– a little more than one year after Robinson first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

In 1998, O’Ree was hired by the NHL as a Diversity Ambassador, having given many speeches since to kids and adults alike– those that play the game, those that have played the game and anyone that will listen in-between.

In 2018, O’Ree was finally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as a Builder.

Also in 2018, the NHL first presented the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which is presented annually “to an individual who– through the game of hockey– has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society,” as voted on by a fan vote in combination with weighted votes from O’Ree himself, the NHL and the award’s presenting sponsor, MassMutual.

Fans can submit candidates every year before the field is narrowed to three finalists that are then voted on to select a winner.

O’Ree is also a member of the Order of Canada, has a statue in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and is awaiting the result of the Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act in the United States Congress on Wednesday.

Oh, and, one more thing, O’Ree played his entire professional career spanning from the 1950s through the 1970s legally blind in his right eye after sustaining an injury in Junior hockey.

On Tuesday night, 64 years to the day that he made his NHL debut with Boston, the Bruins retired O’Ree’s No. 22 in front of 17,850 fans in attendance at TD Garden prior to a, 7-1, loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

O’Ree became just the 12th player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining the likes of Eddie Shore (No. 2), Lionel Hitchman (No. 3), Bobby Orr (No. 4), “Dit” Clapper (No. 5), Phil Esposito (No. 7), Cam Neely (No. 8), John Bucyk (No. 9), Milt Schmidt (No. 15), Rick Middleton (No. 16), Terry O’Reilly (No. 24) and Ray Bourque (No. 77) in the rafters of TD Garden.

He read a speech from his home in San Diego, California via Zoom before former Bruin and current NHL on TNT analyst, Anson Carter, as well as members of the S.C.O.R.E. Boston Youth Hockey program raised O’Ree’s No. 22 banner to thunderous applause.

Now all that’s needed is another statue outside the building next to Orr’s “The Goal” in The Hub on Causeway.

Or maybe the City of Boston can put it next to City Hall near Bill Russell’s statue.

Tuesday night in Carolina’s, 7-1, victory, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored a pair of goals while Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo each had four-point nights from the Hurricanes’ defense.

Frederik Andersen (20-6-0, 2.03 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 26 games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots faced in the win for the Canes.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-1-0, 5.25 goals-against average, .821 save percentage in two games played) made seven saves on 12 shots against before being replaced after one period with his team trailing, 5-1– though in large part through no fault of his own for the lack of effort team-wide in the loss.

Linus Ullmark (13-5-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 19 games played) made 20 saves on 22 shots in relief of Rask for no decision.

As a result of Tuesday night’s loss, the Bruins are 0-2-0 against the Hurricanes this season.

Boston fell to 22-12-2 (46 points) overall, but the B’s remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, Carolina now sits atop the Metropolitan Division with a 26-8-2 record (54 points) thus far in 2021-22.

Connor Clifton and Matt Grzelcyk were back from the league’s COVID-19 protocol for Boston, while Mike Reilly was placed in the aforementioned protocol ahead of the game on Tuesday.

In addition to Reilly, the Bruins were also without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Trent Frederic (upper body) and John Moore (upper body) against Carolina.

With Clifton and Grzelcyk back, head coach Bruce Cassidy, adjusted his defensive pairing accordingly– partnering Grzelcyk with his usual suspect on the first defensive pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy, while Clifton went back to his third pairing role with Derek Forbort.

Urho Vaakanainen covered Reilly’s role on the second pair with Brandon Carlo.

On Monday, Karson Kuhlman, was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Kraken– signaling an end to his Bruins career as a result.

The 26-year-old undrafted forward made his NHL debut with Boston in the 2018-19 season and spent parts of four seasons with the B’s in 75 games, amassing 7-8–15 totals in that span.

On Tuesday, goaltender, Kyle Keyser, and forward, Steven Fogarty, were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) and assigned to Boston’s taxi squad.

Reilly, Frederic, Foligno, Moore, Fogarty, Tyler Lewington (the only healthy scratch), Zboril and Keyser were all out of the lineup against Carolina for one reason or another.

Less than four minutes into the action, Slavin sent a pass across the slot to Teuvo Teräväinen (11) for a one-timer goal on Rask’s glove side as the Bruins netminder was forced to sprawl across the crease.

Slavin (18) and DeAngelo (20) tallied the assists on Teräväinen’s goal and the Hurricanes jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 3:44 of the first period.

A little more than a couple of minutes later, Kotkaniemi (8) wrapped a rebound around Rask’s right leg pad from the doorstep to give Carolina a two-goal lead at 6:03 of the first period.

Andrei Svechnikov (17) and Nino Niederreiter (8) notched the assists as the Canes pulled ahead to a, 2-0, lead with a pair of goals in a span of 2:19.

Midway through the opening frame, Svechnikov was assessed an interference minor at 9:48, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins.

Boston took advantage of the ensuing skater advantage on a deflection goal from Patrice Bergeron (12) to cut Carolina’s lead in half, 2-1, at 11:13 of the first period.

David Pastrnak (16) recorded the primary assist with the no-look shot pass off of Bergeron’s skate and into the twine, while McAvoy (19) picked up the secondary assist.

Just 13 seconds later, Kotkaniemi (9) got a stick on a shot from the point by Slavin and deflected the rubber biscuit over Rask’s shoulder to give Carolina another two-goal lead, 3-1.

Slavin (19) and Derek Stepan (5) had the assists on Kotkaniemi’s second goal of the game at 11:26 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Clifton cut a rut to the sin bin for cross checking at 12:11, but the Hurricanes were not successful on the resulting power play– at least not yet on the night’s list of skater advantage opportunities.

Late in the opening frame, Seth Jarvis (7) waltzed around Clifton and crashed the net on an individual effort for an unassisted goal to give the Canes a, 4-1, lead at 16:01.

56 seconds after that, Stepan (5) scored a goal while crashing the slot as Jordan Martinook took a hit and freed the puck to his teammate in a high danger scoring area.

Martinook (6) had the only assist on Stepan’s goal as Carolina took a, 5-1, lead at 16:57 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes had a, 5-1, lead on the scoreboard and a, 12-10, advantage in shots on goal as Boston had allowed five or more goals for the first time in any first period since March 3, 2008, when they gave up six goals to the Washington Capitals in a, 10-2, loss at the then known as Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin had a first period hat trick, Matt Bradley and Brooks Laich each had a pair of goals in that game, while all four dressed netminders made an appearance.

Tim Thomas got the start for Boston and was pulled twice after a brief relief appearance by Alex Auld, while Cristobal Huet started the game for the Capitals, but was yanked from the crease with back spasms and replaced by Olaf Kölzig.

Truly, it was the definition of insanity.

The Bruins had goals from Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm that night, if you’re wondering, while notorious enemy of the Commonwealth, Matt Cooke, opened the night’s scoring.

Meanwhile, Nicklas Bäckström and Donald Brashear also pocketed goals for the Capitals in that wild game from almost 14 years ago.

Back at TD Garden on Tuesday night, while losing, 5-1, after one period, the Bruins led in blocked shots (4-3) and giveaways (4-2) as the Hurricanes also maintained the advantage in takeaways (3-1), hits (13-12) and faceoff win percentage (52-48).

Carolina was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

The second period was relatively tame as no goals were scored by either team and a string of penalties opened the ice for lots of skating.

Ullmark replaced Rask before the period began and Brendan Smith caught Craig Smith (no relation) with a high stick at 6:55.

Boston’s power play came up short, however, and would do so again at 10:38 when Sebastian Aho cut a rut for high sticking at 10:38 of the second period.

The Bruins also couldn’t score on an abbreviated 5-on-3 advantage at 11:30 when Ian Cole tripped up McAvoy.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Hurricanes still led, 5-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston, 23-20, in shots on goal as the Bruins rallied to outshoot Carolina, 13-8, in the second period alone.

The Canes led in blocked shots (13-5) and takeaways (12-2), while the B’s led in giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Both teams had 21 hits aside, while the Hurricanes were still 0/1 and the Bruins were now 1/4 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Vincent Trocheck cross checked Erik Haula 33 seconds into the third period, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short when McAvoy and Aho collided near the blue line by the Bruins’ attacking zone– resulting in an interference minor for No. 73 in black and gold at 1:13 of the final frame.

After 80 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Hurricanes went on an abbreviated power play, but it didn’t take them long for Slavin (2) to riffle a shot from inside the faceoff circle over Ullmark’s blocker on the short side to give Carolina a, 6-1, lead.

DeAngelo (21) and Teräväinen (19) tallied the assists on Slavin’s power-play goal at 3:05 of the third period and the Hurricanes had a five-goal lead as a result.

Haula later caught Slavin with a high stick at 6:04 and presented Carolina with another power play for good measure.

The Hurricanes got their money’s worth as Svechnikov (13) stayed aggressive on a loose puck in the slot and elevated the rubber biscuit over Ullmark as the Bruins goaltender was down.

Aho (23) and DeAngelo (22) notched the assists on Svechnikov’s power-play goal and Carolina continued to blow Boston out of their own building, 7-1, at 7:48 of the third period.

After that nothing else happened.

There were no more goals, nor penalties, as fans left TD Garden early either to make the trains out of North Station due to the later than usual start as a result of the night’s opening ceremonies or simply to avoid watching the seconds tick down while lackluster entertainment continued on the ice.

At the final horn, Carolina had won, 7-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-23, including a, 14-9, advantage in the third period– tied for the second-most shots allowed in any third period by Boston this season.

The Bruins had previously given up 14 shots against in the third period on Opening Night against the Dallas Stars in a, 3-1, win on Oct. 16th at TD Garden and gave up a season-worst 16 shots against in the third period alone twice within a span of a week apart– once on Dec. 2nd in a, 2-0, shutout win in Nashville and again on Dec. 9th in a, 3-2, win in Edmonton.

Tuesday night didn’t have the same end result for Boston, despite being badly outshot in the third period.

The Hurricanes exited the building with the all-important victory and led the night in blocked shots (16-9), while the Bruins left their own ice leading in giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had 26 hits aside.

Carolina went 2/3 on the power play, while the B’s finished the night’s action 1/5 on the skater advantage.

Boston fell to 7-7-2 (4-4-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-7-1 (3-4-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-9-2 (3-5-1 at home) when trailing after the second period this season.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to an impressive 17-2-1 (10-1-1 on the road) when scoring first, 15-1-0 (7-1-0 on the road) when leading after one and 17-1-1 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after two in 2021-22.

The Bruins continue their seven-game homestand (3-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Thursday before the Winnipeg Jets visit Boston on Saturday.

The B’s are currently scheduled to wrap things up at on this current homestand next Monday against the Anaheim Ducks before hitting the road for three games with stops in Colorado, Arizona and Dallas to close out the month of January– at least until the remaining condensed schedule is announced on Wednesday, that is.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Pastrnak scores hat trick in Rask’s return from hip surgery

David Pastrnak record his 11th career hat trick and helped the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in Tuukka Rask’s return to action Thursday night at TD Garden.

Rask, 34, made his season debut since recovering from offseason hip surgery and signing as an unrestricted free agent with Boston on Tuesday.

His last regular season appearance was way back on May 10, 2021, in a, 3-2, overtime victory against the New York Islanders on home ice before facing the Islanders in the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs– losing in six games while being eliminated on the road on June 9, 2021, in a, 6-2, loss at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Thursday night, however, was different as Rask described an unusual feeling prior to the puck drop.

“It was [emotional]. It was very much out of the normal, I guess, the way I was feeling before the game,” Rask told reporters after the, 3-2, win. He continued, “[I]t was great to see the fans’ support– the best fans.”

Rask (1-0-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in one game played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the win.

Philadelphia netminder, Carter Hart (7-11-4, 2.93 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s improved to 21-11-2 (44 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while Philly fell to 13-16-7 (33 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.

Boston is now 2-1-0 against the Flyers this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Connor Clifton (COVID-19 protocol), Derek Forbort (COVID-19 protocol), Trent Frederic (upper body), John Moore (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (COVID-19 protocol) on Thursday.

As a result, Jack Ahcan was recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of the night’s action and paired with Tyler Lewington as Lewington made his Boston debut on the third defensive pairing.

Urho Vaakanainen was promoted to the left side of Charlie McAvoy, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left everything else the same from Wednesday night’s, 5-1, win against Montréal.

Boston’s long list of scratches Thursday night included Frederic, Foligno, Moore, Forbort, Grzelcyk, Zboril, Clifton and Karson Kuhlman.

Pastrnak (14) kicked things off with a shot that beat Hart’s blocker side to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 1:51 of the first period.

Prior to the goal, Erik Haula had sent a pass across the slot to No. 88, who promptly unloaded an accurate shot into the twine.

Haula (8) and Taylor Hall (16) snagged the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night while a good portion of fans were probably still finding their seats.

A couple minutes later, Nick Seeler cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 4:04 of the first period.

About midway through the ensuing skater advantage, Brad Marchand faked a shot and slipped a pass to Pastrnak (15) for a catch and release goal instead– extending Boston’s lead to two-goals in the process.

Marchand (21) and Charlie McAvoy (16) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 5:27.

About 20 seconds later, Ivan Provorov caught Charlie Coyle with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction at 5:48, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, Zack MacEwen checked Hall while Hall was already falling to the ice from prior contact with a Flyer.

This drew the ire of Pastrnak– who would be assessed an interference minor– and Lewington, who squared off in an exchange of pleasantries and brought MacEwen into the box with him as the two received roughing minors.

All three penalties were assessed at 15;28 of the first period and resulted in a power play for Philadelphia.

Boston killed of Pastrnak’s minor, however, and escaped without harm as the Bruins led, 2-0, heading into the first intermission.

The B’s also dominated in shots on goal, 12-6, as they held Philly without a shot through almost the first half of the first period.

The Flyers led in blocked shots (3-2) and hits (10-8), while the Bruins led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (4-0) and faceoff win percentage (61-39) after one period of play.

Philadelphia was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 1/2 heading into the middle frame.

Lewington and MacEwen exchanged pleasantries that quickly escalated into an exchange of fisticuffs at 2:51 of the second period, spurring some momentum in favor of the Flyers, though by how much is a valid question as a few defensive mishaps, breakdowns and miscommunication here and there would lead to Boston giving up a couple of goals later in the period.

Tomáš Nosek was sent to the sin bin for interference at 6:26 of the second period.

Late in the ensuing penalty kill, the Bruins got caught spending too much time in their own zone– unable to get a desperate clear for a line change.

Provorov rocketed a shot from the point that Cam Atkinson (15) redirected up high past Rask from point blank on the doorstep to cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Provorov (10) and Keith Yandle (12) notched the assists on Atkinson’s power-play goal at 8:02 of the second period.

About a minute later, Pastrnak and Max Willman got into a shoving match by the benches and each received roughing minors, necessitating 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 9:07.

Late in the middle period, after Joel Farabee was denied on a breakaway by Rask– something the Bruins netminder did a few times during the night– the Flyers slipped through the neutral zone on a sloppy effort by the Bruins at getting back into their own zone.

Atkinson and Farabee had a de facto 2-on-1 as McAvoy went chasing and Farabee skated around him before Vaakanainen was left on his own trying to breakup the passing lane.

By that point Farabee had already surrendered the puck to Atkinson coming down the other side boards whereby Atkinson then duffed a pass back to Farabee for a one-timer opportunity that went by the wayside– but not completely.

Farabee’s (11) patience paid off as the Flyers forward kept his composure and gathered the puck a half step behind him in his stride and promptly buried the rubber biscuit in the empty twine behind Rask– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Atkinson (13) and Yandle (13) earned the assists on the goal at exactly 15:00 of the second period.

It didn’t take Philadelphia long to lose the momentum that they had generated from Boston’s misfortune, however.

Justin Braun tripped up Craig Smith at 15:16 and Willman followed his teammate into the box at 16:29 for hooking Pastrnak.

The Bruins had 48 seconds of an ensuing 5-on-3 advantage. It took them less than 20 seconds to score their second power-play goal of the game.

Marchand worked the puck around the zone to McAvoy, who fed Pastrnak (16) in his usual spot from the high slot at the faceoff circle for a one-timer blast that beat Hart and gave Boston a, 3-2, lead at 16:45 of the second period.

McAvoy (17) and Marchand (22) had the assists on the goal which completed the hat trick for Pastrnak on Thursday night– marking the 11th hat trick of his NHL career (the third-most among active NHLers trailing Alex Ovechkin, 28, and Evgeni Malkin, 12).

Only Phil Esposito (26), Cam Neely (13) and John Bucyk (12) had more hat tricks in their Bruins tenures than Pastrnak has so far.

It was also the first hat trick in back-to-back games for Boston since April 7-9, 1998, when Sergei Samsonov scored a hat trick one game after Steve Heinze notched three goals for the Bruins, as noted by 98.5 The Sports Hub Bruins beat reporter, Ty Anderson.

And if you’re wondering “when was the last time a hat trick had been scored by Boston on back-to-back calendar days?”

Well, that was on Dec. 4th and 5th in 1982, when Barry Pederson scored hat tricks in both, 6-4, victories– though one was in Montréal (Dec. 4th) and the other was against Philadelphia (Dec. 5th), per WEEI‘s Scott McLaughlin.

As for the last time the Bruins scored multiple hat tricks in the month of January? That was a bit more recent.

Patrice Bergeron scored his first career hat trick in a, 6-0, win against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 11, 2011, six days prior to Zdeno Chara’s first career hat trick in a, 7-0, win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 17, 2011.

Oh and Pastrnak’s two power-play goals (75) helped him surpass Bobby Orr (74) for sole possession of the eighth-most in Bruins franchise history.

Anyway, through 40 minutes of action in Boston, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 29-15, in shots on goal– including a, 17-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (6-5), giveaways (8-2) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Philadelphia held the advantage in takeaways (6-2), as well as hits (17-13), while the Flyers went 1/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 2/4.

There were no goals scored in the third period as the two teams swapped chances before the Flyers eventually outshot Boston in the final frame alone.

Brandon Carlo sent an errant puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game minor at 12:05 and Coyle followed it up with another delay of game infraction for a puck over the glass at 13:15.

With a 5-on-3 advantage upcoming before an abbreviated regular 5-on-4 power play, Philadelphia’s interim head coach, Mike Yeo, used his timeout to inspire his players to do something on the special teams.

The Bruins were down two skaters for 51 seconds and managed to make the kill on both penalties.

With 3:24 remaining in the action, Yeo pulled Hart for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 36-27, despite trailing Philadelphia, 12-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins led their own building leading in blocked shots (16-6) and giveaways (11-3), while the Flyers exited TD Garden leading in hits (23-18).

Both teams split the final faceoff win% total, 50-50, as Philly went 1/4 on the power play and Boston went 2/4.

The B’s improved to 14-5-0 (7-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 15-0-0 (7-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-1-0 (6-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Philadelphia fell to 2-14-2 (1-9-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-11-2 (0-6-2 on the road) when trailing after one and (1-15-3 (1-9-2 on the road) when trailing through the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins (2-0-0) continue their seven-game homestand Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators. 

Boston then hosts the Carolina Hurricanes next Tuesday and will retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 prior to the game in a ceremony set to begin at 7 p.m. ET. The Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks will also visit Boston before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.

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NHL Nick's Net

Where do the 2020-21 Boston Bruins go from here?

To some, the 2020-21 Boston Bruins season ended in disappointment. To others, it made sense. Not for the reasons that you’re probably thinking.

No, there’s no arguments to be made around here regarding the departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug from 2019-20 to 2020-21, though there certainly is something to be said about what moves were made (or not made) since then.

Chara made his own decision to leave and pursue a challenge that was unique to his own career, while Krug and the Bruins just… …never really saw eye-to-eye in the end.

Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, has a long offseason ahead with some tough decisions regarding his roster composition— the draft, free agency, possible trades and the looming Seattle Kraken expansion draft (not necessarily in that order).

For starters, it’d be unwise for the Bruins to trade their 2021 1st round pick unless it’s one of those “home run” deals where you’ve all but assured yourself of a slam dunk that’ll take you all the way to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Then again, the Colorado Avalanche were built to be a super team and they were eliminated in the same Second Round that Boston was ousted from this year. Hockey is weird.

Let’s not focus on Seattle too much just yet and sort through just about every player that hit the ice in a Bruins uniform this season instead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Control” or “Command” “F”, then type your favorite player’s name is your best friend here. It’s a long read, folks.

Forward Line 1

BRAD MARCHAND (29-40—69 totals in 53 games)

Marchand remains under contract through the 2024-25 season and is currently 33-years-old which means he’s only just entering the other side of his prime.

That said, he’s still in his prime and he’s expressed his desire to remain a Bruin for a long time (that was a given when he signed his current contract as an eight-year extension on Sept. 26, 2016, well ahead of when he would’ve reached free agency on July 1, 2017).

PATRICE BERGERON (23-25—48 totals in 54 games)

Along with Marchand, the Bruins captain has expressed to B’s President, Cam Neely, that he would like to go for another Cup with his current team. That doesn’t necessarily rule out whether or not Bergeron would stick around for a rebuild, but it also means that Boston can’t rebuild until Bergeron says so, basically.

He’s earned that right since being drafted by the team in the 2nd round (45th overall) in 2003, and making the roster out of training camp as an 18-year-old for the 2003-04 season— going on to spend the last 17 NHL seasons with Boston.

Bergeron’s entering the final year of his current contract, which means he’ll be a pending-unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season. He’ll also be 36-years-old, so if Jack Studnicka and/or John Beecher aren’t already being trained to become the next first line center sooner rather than later, then that’s going to be something Sweeney will need to fix.

Bergeron has the makeup of a lifetime Bruin, but even Bobby Orr left via free agency (though Alan Eagleson had more to do with that) and Boston was forced to trade Ray Bourque after not being able to win the Cup with him over a 20-year span (regardless of your views on Harry Sinden and penny-pinching).

At least Bergeron already has a 2011 Stanley Cup ring with the Bruins to his name, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see him take one or two more chances elsewhere if things head south.

DAVID PASTRNAK (20-28—48 totals in 48 games)

Pastrnak had a late start to the already months behind 2020-21 league calendar as he recovered from offseason surgery. At times he appeared at the top of his game, but there were a few cold streaks here and there— whether it was injury related or not, sometimes a season just goes like that.

Though he was on pace for 29 goals in a regular 82-game schedule—down from 48 goals in 70 games in a pandemic shortened 2019-20 season, well, again none of that really matters. He was on pace for 56 goals last season at the time the league shut down due to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 pandemic declaration and he’s probably on pace for almost 1,000,000 goals in his career.

Pastrnak is one of two or three biggest components in Boston’s new core (the others being Charlie McAvoy and, if you will, Jeremy Swayman) and has two more years left on his current contract with a $6.667 million cap hit through 2022-23.

Forward Line 2

TAYLOR HALL (10-23—33 totals in 53 games)

Hall arrived via a trade with the Buffalo Sabres with Curtis Lazar in tow in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 2nd round pick, which is one of the best ways to get good value in a deal involving a 1st overall pick (Hall in 2010).

The fact that Hall only had two goals in 37 games with the Sabres is certainly a wild one, but at least he had 17 assists to make up for things, right?

With the exception of his Hart Memorial Trophy winning 93-point performance in 2017-18, Hall has never reached the 30-goal plateau (he had 39 in 2017-18) and plays with a little bit more of a playmaker style to what some might consider a power forward frame or whatever.

He’s got speed, hands and great vision, but he won’t score 50 goals. That’s fine.

He’s still one of the league’s best top-six forwards and pairing him on a line with David Krejci is almost certainly a no brainer. Give him the best fit to excel and it’s no wonder why Hall had 8-6—14 totals in 16 games with the Bruins after the trade.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the deal, which was great for Boston as he only had a one-year, $8.000 million contract in the first place, so it was much easier to fit $4.000 million under the cap than the full value the Sabres paid for his services back in last October during free agency.

Boston hasn’t had a suitable winger on their second line since the days of, well, Milan Lucic basically.

Bringing Hall back is a top priority for Sweeney this offseason and should get done on a three or four-year deal worth about $6.000 million per season.

DAVID KREJCI (8-36—44 totals in 51 games)

Krejci has previously indicated a desire to finish his professional playing days back home in Czechia and was asked again at the end of season press conference about his desires to return Czech Republic and couldn’t provide a response— citing that he hasn’t even been able to answer his own parents on that question.

Would he like to get another Cup ring? Probably.

Would he also like to play back in his native country for at least a couple of seasons so his children can learn Czech and be able to communicate with their grandparents? Also, probably.

Krejci’s $7.250 million cap hit is expiring this offseason as the 35-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

In 962 career NHL games— all with Boston— since making his league debut in the 2006-07 season, he’s amassed 215-515—730 totals, while spending five out of the last six seasons without a winger that best fits his “pass first” playmaking abilities.

Taylor Hall is destined to re-sign with the Bruins as they have about $27 million in cap space this summer.

If the B’s find a solution on the right wing of the second line or simply continue to operate with Craig Smith as such, then Krejci should want to get a full season out of it just to say that he tried.

Realistically, Krejci could be one of those players that retires from the game at 38 or 39, which might sound early for some, but let’s remember that he’s already been part of 15 NHL seasons— he’s played a lot longer than the average NHL career (about three times longer, in fact).

The best solution for Boston as they transition from Patrice Bergeron and Krejci down the middle in the top-six to Jack Studnicka, Charlie Coyle, John Beecher or whoever else is in the fold— might be to sign Krejci to a one-year deal and give him time for at least two seasons afterwards back in the Czech Republic.

CRAIG SMITH (13-19—32 totals in 54 games)

Smith was highly touted as a decent signing in free agency last offseason and performed as expected for Boston in 2020-21. Though he might’ve made the roster deeper as a whole spending more time on the third line, Smith elevated his game with Ondrej Kase out for most of the season.

He was on pace for 47 points in a regular 82-game schedule, which would’ve been his best performance since he had 51 points in 79 games with the Nashville Predators in 2017-18.

With two years left on his contract at $3.100 million per season, Smith is well worth every penny thus far.

Forward Line 3

JAKE DeBRUSK (5-9—14 totals in 41 games)

There’s no way around it, but DeBrusk had a disappointing season in 2020-21.

Whether you’re on the fence about criticizing his performance given the ongoing pandemic and league protocol related restrictions in relation to how that affects a player’s mindset or one of those people that calls in to a show to complain about nonsense someone made up, DeBrusk was demoted to the fourth line and spent some nights as a healthy scratch.

He established a career-high 27 goals in his second season over 68 games in 2018-19, despite missing some games due to injuries that season and has more offsensive skill to his game and a speed component that his father, Louie, perhaps didn’t have in his NHL playing days.

Where Jake might lack in physicality, he makes up for in his scoring prowess, ability to move the puck and line chemistry.

Yes, there are times when it would seem that he needs to be reminded of forechecking and staying on an opponent, but he’s also provided a versatility along the left side or rarely on his opposite wing when the Bruins have struggled with bottom-six depth over the season.

Things may be coming to a crescendo with Boston, however, given the opportunity to sell before things continue on a downward spiral, even though his $3.675 million cap hit through next season is pretty affordable for what— in the best of times— is a top-nine forward.

The chance to avoid retaining salary is now, rather than later as the 2022 trade deadline approaches and if there’s a team out there that wants to prioritize DeBrusk in their plans, they may very well like that fact that he’s only 24-years-old and will be a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end in 2021-22.

For Boston, he’s a cheaper alternative to the one-dimensional style of Mike Hoffman when he’s on his game and producing goals.

But he’s also trade bait this offseason for the B’s, since a change of scenery might just help him find solid ground in things that bigger than just the game and net the Bruins the depth they badly needed in the playoffs.

NICK RITCHIE (15-11—26 totals in 56 games)

Ritchie amassed a career-high 15 goals in his first full season with the Bruins. That would’ve been phenomenal if he did all from the fourth line, but also highly unrealistic even for the new-age “roll four lines” style of the contemporary NHL.

He looked a lot better overall, though, than when Boston traded Danton Heinen for him on Feb. 24, 2020.

It’s going to be hard to try to finagle a fair contract, though, given his offensive outburst and pending-RFA status coming off of a previous deal where he had a cap hit of about $1.499 million.

Paying Ritchie $3.000 million a year and expecting him to reach almost 20 goals would be very unwise and should earn comparisons to the previous GM in Boston.

If he stays or goes, he’s earned another look in a Bruins uniform— just for the right price, in the right role and as long as he doesn’t stray too far from whatever worked this season (again, namely playing well beyond his expectations alongside David Krejci out of necessity until Taylor Hall was acquired, so that’s unrealistic if Hall and Krejci are re-signed).

If nothing else can be done in free agency regarding the third line (Blake Coleman would be great) and the fourth line is gutted, then Ritchie deserves another “prove it” contract in Boston.

CHARLIE COYLE (6-10—16 totals in 51 games)

In 2015-16, Coyle broke the 40-point plateau with 21-21—42 totals in 82 games with the Minnesota Wild. The following season, Coyle set career-highs in assists (38) and points (56) in 82 games with the Wild.

He’s averaged about 33 points per season over 621 games in his nine-year NHL career between Minnesota and Boston.

Had 2020-21 been a regular 82-game schedule, Coyle would’ve been on pace for 23 points. Instead, he notched 16 points in 51 games— missing some time due to a stint on the league’s COVID protocol list and due to injury— over the course of the league’s 56-game season in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Like most people, Coyle would probably like to forget the last year.

Especially if you were hoping for him to start making the transition from being the third line center to a possible short-term replacement for David Krejci if Krejci doesn’t return.

One season is not worth overreacting to, but it also might not be considered an overreaction if you find the right way to be proactive. Just don’t mess up either way.

That said, Coyle usually bounces back from a “down” (in reality, just average) year. His $5.250 million cap hit through 2025-26 is the least of Boston’s worries.

Sure, you’d like to see more from him in goal production, but the Bruins had bigger problems than just one player having an off year. He’s fine, but doesn’t have as much of a leash as he might have had coming into 2020-21.

It’s also possible that fans and media members alike are overvaluing someone that’s always been on the cusp of reaching top-six status, but otherwise has only been good in a third line role.

As always, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be proven wrong.

ONDREJ KASE (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Kase sustained an upper body injury (concussion) in the second game of the season on Jan. 16th and played in part of one more game after that in the last week of the regular season on May 10th.

In nine games with the Bruins, he’s had one point and missed 55 games during his Boston tenure— though the majority of that lost time was in this season alone.

That said, Kase’s got bigger things to think about— like the rest of his life, for example. Given his concussion history, it might mean shutting things down for a while, if not possibly for good.

Boston could bring him back on a cheap contract and place him on long term injured reserve if necessary. At best, Kase recovers and is signed—by the Bruins or not— and goes on to have a lengthy career in the NHL.

Only Kase will be able to tell when his body is ready, if it’s ever ready again. In any case, it’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved in the hard decisions that are to be made.

KARSON KUHLMAN (2-0—2 totals in 20 games)

In 56 career NHL games, Kuhlman’s had 6-7—13 totals so far. He made his league debut in the 2018-19 season and put up five points (three goals, two assists) in 11 games in what looked like it was going to be a fast start for the prolific college scorer.

He then had 1-5—6 totals in 25 games in the 2019-20 season while bouncing around and getting some work with the Providence Bruins (AHL) before recording two goals in 20 games with Boston after a late start to the 2020-21 season due to being in COVID protocol as the short training camp in January got underway.

Kuhlman’s been able to hold his own with his speed among the bottom-six forwards, though with Blake Coleman potentially being available in free agency, the Bruins would have better options to pursue moving forward for the time being.

While Boston remains in “win now” mode, they can gently guide Kuhlman’s NHL career into… …whatever it may be at this point. Sure, defenders and goaltenders take a little bit longer to develop, but whether you think Kuhlman’s gotten enough ice time or too little at the NHL level it seems there’s been a stalling point.

Either his role will evolve as a third or fourth line regular for 2021-22 or he’ll be the next young player out of college on his way out a la Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork in recent years, which means something’s not clicking among the B’s scouting department.

All of them still have potential and could become better players, but they’d be doing so after moving on from your club. If your deals don’t land a Cup, then that’s just poor asset management as a result of bad player scouting and development.

Forward Line 4

SEAN KURALY (4-5—9 totals in 47 games)

Kuraly was on pace for 13 points in a regular 82-game season, which would’ve been his worst performance out of his four full seasons at the NHL level. That’s a down year for sure— even for nine points in 47 games in a 56-game schedule— but is it really that bad?

While he’s expected to be a 20-point scorer as an effective fourth line center and penalty killer (with the chance that he might crack the top-nine forward lineup), scoring primarily from the fourth line isn’t a good strategy to win hockey games in 2021.

That’s not to say that the Bruins didn’t have scoring problems as a whole in a league where rolling four lines is vital, though.

Yes, Kuraly’s 2020-21 season was not great— especially in a contract year, do you think he’ll make another $1.275 million cap hit in Boston? But, he’s still a durable 28-year-old NHLer that should bounce back with a regular schedule.

It might be time to move on, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s kept inhouse as an affordable utility player.

Maybe he’s the next Austin Czarnik and simply has to move on elsewhere.

Nothing would be surprising at this point. The Bruins need to reevaluate their bottom-six and they know it’ll mean letting go of some guys that have been around for at least a few seasons.

If you’re going to hold Kuraly to Jake DeBrusk or Charlie Coyle-levels of expectations, well, it might be time to reevaluate your own opinion really quick. At least two of those players should be solid top-nine forward options for any NHL club and scoring at least 15 goals and 30-40 points a season in a third line role.

Kuraly, on the other hand, should be closer to 20 points (at best) no matter how it comes.

TRENT FREDERIC (4-1—5 totals in 42 games)

It’s fine to think that Frederic should’ve been given more games.

It’s crazy, however, to think that Frederic was going to be the determining factor— especially if that was your only lineup change down the stretch.

He’s a young player with an edge, so he’s susceptible to taking unnecessary penalties, plus it’s always easier to have a learning experience conversation with a younger player craving to become an NHL regular than an older veteran that might not take being forced to sit out too well.

“But they’re professional players! They should know it’s for the common good— the benefit of the team!”

Yes, but how would you like it if a younger replacement was slotted into your job at your office and you were forced to watch and couldn’t help whoever you enjoyed working with from about nine floors above?

Doesn’t sound as enticing now, doesn’t it?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t play younger players in a youth driven league, but Boston’s bottom-six wasn’t filled with old players as the season came to an end.

It was filled with players that couldn’t score and struggled to get the puck out of their own zone.

Frederic has the makings of a power forward, but he was on pace for about six goals in a regular 82-game schedule. It’s hard to argue whether his 4-1—5 totals in 42 games look better or worse than Chris Wagner’s 2-3—5 totals in 41 games— after all, they each had five points.

If you like Frederic because he fights, makes hits and puts the puck in the net occasionally like what Milan Lucic used to do in a Bruins uniform, that’s fine, but don’t overvalue the reality that’s in front of you.

Frederic is young, though, so he’s developing and some mistakes are bound to be overlooked by the fanbase for a year or two— at least until someone in the balcony demands he be placed on the first line, then wonders why he doesn’t have, like, 50 goals out of nowhere by that point.

His two-year extension at $1.050 million per season through the 2022-23 league calendar is just fine. He’ll be an NHL regular in 2021-22, which means he’s in control of his own destiny at this point.

ANTON BLIDH (1-0—1 totals in 10 games)

Blidh’s sticking around with the organization on a one-year, two-way contract worth the league minimum $750,000. That guy really likes I-95, huh?

At 26-years-old, there’s not much more to the ceiling for Blidh’s potential, but it is nice to have someone that’s as dedicated as Trent Whitfield was as a player to the club (and still is as a coach in Providence).

As a utility guy in Boston, Blidh fits the role well. In a season where taxi squads were a thing, there really wasn’t anyone better as a durable “emergency use only” player. Here’s hoping things continue to go up for him with the team in whatever role he’s in for 2021-22.

CAMERON HUGHES (0-0—0 totals in 1 game)

In parts of four seasons with the Providence Bruins since making his professional debut at the tail end of the 2017-18 season, Hughes has been getting better each year in one way or another.

In 25 games with Providence in 2020-21, he had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists). He’ll be someone to watch in training camp in September as a potential option for the fourth line in some capacity.

Hughes is sure to get more than just the honorary treatment as a fill-in for the last game of the regular season with the Boston regulars having already clinched a playoff spot and earning a night off to rest for the playoffs.

This coming season is a contract year for him and could be his big step up to the major league as the Bruins deal with building the foundation for eventual first and second line centers.

CURTIS LAZAR (7-6—13 totals in 50 games)

Acquired ahead of the trade deadline with Taylor Hall for Anders Bjork and a 2nd round pick in 2021, Lazar had four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games with Boston after he departed the Buffalo Sabres.

The 26-year-old provides speed and an influx of determination to the fourth line as someone that’s fought for just about every second of his NHL career.

No, not necessarily speaking with the fisticuffs here, but since his first two seasons in the league with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15 and 2015-16, he’s never really been given a fair shake at a full season until he played in 50 games with the Sabres and Bruins this season.

He’s bounced from the Sens to the Calgary Flames, Buffalo and now Boston, but it looks like the B’s just might have a home for Lazar.

His numbers reflect that of a true fourth liner, so don’t expect too much, but he was on pace for 19 points in 2020-21 if it had been a regular 82-game season.

Lazar’s entering a contract year in 2021-22 with an $800,000 cap hit and there’s reason to believe he’ll do everything he can to prove his worth to Boston.

Assembling a roster isn’t so much about having all the best players and young, enticing prospects, so much as it is about having the right players.

The 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins had Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line and— though the league was different 10 years ago— remember what it was like going into the 2010-11 season wondering who the hell this Campbell guy from the Florida Panthers was as an almost afterthought in the Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Campbell trade.

Now come back to reality and remind yourself that the 2021-22 Bruins are not going to be Stanley Cup contenders, but anything can happen if you make the playoffs and play a Conference Finals round that lasts longer than the other one.

JACK STUDNICKA (1-2—3 totals in 20 games)

Well, Studnicka didn’t really pan out this season like some had hoped, but the 21-year-old is only entering his fifth professional season after being drafted in the 2nd round (53rd overall) by Boston in 2017.

Three points in 20 games just seems like a case of bad luck given the way Studnicka plays with control in his game. Seven points in 11 games with Providence this season— despite all of them coming in the form of assists— is promising considering what he had to go through being in and out of Boston’s lineup, being on the taxi squad and dealing with the exceptionally condense AHL season in both division travel and the varying schedule itself from team to team.

The pandemic has been detrimental to the development of young players across the board, but it doesn’t mean that some of these players won’t go on to be stars in their own right.

Studnicka may have his name penciled on the roster for 2021-22, but don’t be surprised if he needs a little fine tuning in Providence for another year.

GREG McKEGG (1-0—1 totals in 5 games)

McKegg is probably gone in the offseason, but he served well as a utility player for Boston and even had a pair of assists in two games with Providence at one point in the 2020-21 season. His five appearances for the B’s this season were the fewest games he played in a season since his early days with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he played in three games as a 22-year-old in 2014-15.

Now 29, McKegg finds himself in the difficult position of being an NHL journeyman doomed to a fourth line role if he can find one, being a top AHL forward on the verge of either sticking  to it or retiring or he could just sign overseas for more money, probably.

CHRIS WAGNER (2-3—5 totals in 41 games)

Wagner was on pace for seven points if the 2020-21 season was a regular 82-game schedule.

That’s right. Seven.

He had a career-high 19 points in 76 games with Boston in 2018-19, when the Bruins went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final on the backs of tremendous bottom-six scoring depth—considering Wagner was responsible for 12 goals that season.

Since then he had 10 points in 67 games in 2019-20 and, well, the five points that he had in 41 games for Boston in 2020-21.

Injuries and the insurmountable expectations placed upon a local kid playing for the local team (as the unofficial mayor of Walpole), well, this season left much to be desired— especially considering it was the first year of his three-year extension worth $1.350 million per season. Oops.

If he bounces back, great! If he doesn’t, then the writing is on the wall and you already have to rework the fourth line anyway, so…

That said, Wagner admitted to suffering from some previously unexperienced anxiety related to the pandemic and the league’s COVID-19 protocols that limited teammate interaction with the cities they traveled to, as well as with each other, to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Hopefully the 2021-22 season provides a sense of normalcy that’ll allow him to get back on his game— even if he is limited in the number of games played, which he probably should be at this point.

OSKAR STEEN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

One of the bright spots for the Bruins this season was Steen’s NHL debut. Though he didn’t register anything on the scoresheet and hasn’t in his first three career NHL games, Steen’s provided a spark and some physicality despite his 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame.

Brad Marchand once went 20 games without scoring a goal in a season back when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season. He’s also 5-foot-9 and about seven pounds lighter than Steen.

Not trying to make comparisons here that might otherwise set unrealistic expectations, but Steen certainly could see more ice time in the 2021-22 season among Boston’s bottom-six if they’re trying to make any kinds of repairs to the team’s depth from within.

ZACH SENYSHYN (0-0—0 totals in 8 games)

Look, Senyshyn only played in eight games this season, but in 14 career NHL games spanning parts of three seasons, he has 1-2—3 totals. Zach Hamill had four points (all assists) in 20 games from when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season through the 2011-12 season with Boston.

That’s what we’re looking at here.

The pending-RFA could be tendered a qualifying offer, could have his negotiating rights traded or could just be off into the unknown.

In 42 games with Providence in 2019-20, he had 7-9—16 totals (or about .381 points per game). In 18 games with the P-Bruins in 2020-21, he wore an “A” on the front of his sweater and had 7-6—13 totals (about .722 points per game).

He had a career-high 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 66 games with Providence in his first full professional season in 2017-18.

Whether he’s back among the Bruins organization next season depends on how patient both the club and the player are with each other.

At 24-years-old, he could just be a late bloomer. He could also just need a change of scenery. Or he could be like Hamill. Those are the possibilities at this point.

Can his hot hands in Providence last season continue moving forward?

Defensive Pairing 1

MATT GRZELCYK (5-15—20 totals in 37 games)

Despite injuries limiting Grzelcyk to 37 games in 2020-21, he was on pace for 29 points if the season had been a regular 82-game schedule, so 20 points in 37 games in an already condensed 56-game season is actually not that bad, considering the Bruins were looking for someone to step up and replace Torey Krug’s stature as an offensive defender from the point.

Grzelcyk had five goals, while Krug had two this season. Grzelcyk had 20 points in 37 games (.541 points per game), while Krug had 32 points in 51 games (.627 points per game).

One player is just a little bit better on the power play and it’s Krug, which is to be expected given his 10 years in the NHL at this point to Grzelcyk’s five-year career thus far.

Sure, Grzelcyk’s defensive lapses are noticeable at times, but then again, what defender isn’t going to standout when a goal against is scored.

That’s not to say that Boston can’t do better with the addition of a solidified left shot blue liner for the first pairing, but Grzelcyk gets a lot blame for something that is largely mismanagement.

Again, not to go too deep into the “should’ve kept the band together” argument, but the Bruins at least should’ve had a backup plan that wasn’t just “play the kids and hope for the best”— not while they’re trying to win one more Cup with their old core, at least.

More on that in a minute.

CHARLIE McAVOY (5-25—30 totals in 51 games)

McAvoy is a stud. He’s the new core to build around on the back end and he had a great season all things considered.

He’s also on the verge of a breakout it seems, but when remains to be seen. That said, you want him on your team for the ride. Imagine if the Bruins dealt Ray Bourque, like, 20 years before they actually traded Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000. Yeah, see, that would’ve been one of the franchise’s worst mistakes in this hypothetical situation.

When McAvoy breaks out, he’ll get Norris Trophy attention. Until then, he’s considered to be a star in Boston, but otherwise just a really good defender that’s young— even as a 23-year-old with four seasons under his belt— and has time to learn to become a master.

Enough said.

Defensive Pairing 2

MIKE REILLY (0-27—27 totals in 55 games)

If Alec Martinez is too costly and Jamie Oleksiak or Ryan Suter aren’t options, then it’s fine to stick with Reilly on Boston’s defense.

No, he probably shouldn’t be on the second pairing, but a career-year and the way he moves the puck up through the neutral zone will draw some attention to giving him more ice time and seeing what he can handle.

In a perfect world, nobody gets injured and the Bruins sign a guy like Suter or whoever to cement the left side with Grzelcyk, some guy and Reilly.

It wouldn’t be like, say, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense, but it would be more competitive than when all of your defenders are injured and you’re left reaching for Jack Ahcan or Urho Vaakanainen a bit too soon (not that they’re bad players, for the record).

BRANDON CARLO (3-1—4 totals in 27 games)

Carlo was limited to 27 games due to multiple injuries and had four points this season before his postseason run was cut short by yet another concussion. His new six-year extension with Boston carries a $4.100 million cap hit which is both 1) a steal if he’s healthy and remains a solid shutdown defender on the second pairing and 2) a bit of an overpay if he can’t play.

The good news, however, is that long term injured reserve exists for a reason, so, you know, just legally circumvent the salary cap if you have to.

Here’s hoping his traumatic brain injury days are behind him.

Defensive Pairing 3

JEREMY LAUZON (1-7—8 totals in 41 games)

It’s honestly kind of surprising that Lauzon only had a goal this season. He’s managed to hit the back of the net in each of the parts of three seasons that he’s played for Boston, but he’s yet to record two goals in one league calendar year.

At 24-years-old, he’s the same age as Brandon Carlo, though Carlo is a late 1996 birthday, whereas Lauzon is an early 1997 Gen-Zer or whatever.

If he’s not taken by the Seattle Kraken at the 2021 Expansion Draft, then that’s a good thing. One mistake alone by Lauzon didn’t cost Boston their Second Round series against the New York Islanders and he seems to be the kind of player that will learn quickly and correct things in-game just by continuing to play.

Lauzon doesn’t get disgruntled and he doesn’t give up. Sure, he might be battling his own youth and inexperience at times, but he likes to hit and play a bit of a physical game, which is in demand for Boston’s defense.

The Bruins should try to coerce Seattle to take someone that might otherwise be hoping for a fresh change of scenery in Jakub Zboril.

KEVAN MILLER (1-3—4 totals in 28 games)

After numerous knee injuries, surgeries, rehab and more, a concussion in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the final blow for the 33-year-old Miller as he announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Though he was signed to a one-year, $1.250 million contract last offseason, the Bruins could’ve used that money elsewhere on, say, a different defender.

Instead, Brandon Carlo now gets Miller’s cap hit added on to his freshly expired $2.850 million AAV contract for Carlo’s new six-year, $24.6 million deal.

Whereas last season anyone else could’ve been signed for that price or less and not have missed half of the season, this season with the flat cap and everything, Boston is destined to make a trade if they’re able to re-sign some of their pending-UFAs in Taylor Hall, David Krejci and others before assessing what else needs to be done.

CONNOR CLIFTON (1-6—7 totals in 44 games)

Clifton set career-highs in assists (six) and points (seven), while playing in a career-high 44 games in the 2020-21 season. As he came into the league, Clifton was a bit more of a run of the mill seventh defender, but he’s played well enough to earn a shot at being on the last pairing full-time.

At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, Clifton still plays hard and bangs bodies with ease.

With a $1.000 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season, he’s the perfect low-cost, high-reward player to have in the toolbox as Boston continues to overhaul their blue line.

JARRED TINORDI (0-1—1 totals in 21 games)

Claimed off waivers during the season, Tinordi had one assist in 14 games with Boston as a depth defender. He’s got a big frame at 6-foot-6, 205-pounds and can fight when necessary, so he’ll pack an extra punch when the team needs a physical boost or someone to provide a spark.

He’ll be a pending-UFA though and with Steven Kampfer heading off to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), it’d make sense to keep Tinordi around on another league minimum contract as the new seventh defender.

JAKUB ZBORIL (0-9—9 totals in 44 games)

Zboril can move the puck. How well can he do that? Depends on who you ask.

He’s been frustrated by the fact that he’s not yet set in stone on Boston’s roster full-time, was given that chance in the 2020-21 season and really didn’t live up to expectations.

Nine assists are fine for defender that was projected to be on the bottom pairing for most of the year, but Zboril couldn’t play up the lineup when teammates went down with injuries and was exposed as a young, inexperienced, blue liner time and time again.

It’d probably take a lot of convincing for Seattle to see something in him rather than a couple other potential options from the Bruins at the expansion draft, but if Boston somehow lost Zboril for nothing to the Kraken, they wouldn’t be losing too much.

Sure, Zboril could go on to develop into a fine defender for Seattle, but that’s just it. Maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

Defenders take a few extra years to develop sometimes, but unless everyone understands that rushing things right now is unwise or that there’s a lot of work to be done, then it’s time to do yourself a favor and stop the bleeding.

JOHN MOORE (0-2—2 totals in 5 games)

Moore has two more years remaining on his five-year contract worth $2.750 million per season and appeared in five games in 2020-21 in between some pretty major season ending injuries.

Is he the new Kevan Miller, you ask? Probably.

Moore’s latest surgery back in March was a hip arthroscopy and labral repair and will keep him out until about time for training camp in September at the earliest, but if he’s not ready to go then at least there’s the long-term injured reserve.

Unless you find a trading partner to take on his cap hit.

The Moore experiment wasn’t necessarily a failure, but it also hasn’t really worked out so far.

Was it a long contract to sign at the time? Yes, but the cap hit is low enough to be manageable in the event that, well, this happens.

Now on the wrong side of 30, Moore will be turning 31 in November and if his body can’t take what’s being thrown at him, he’ll be on his way out of the league sooner rather than later.

If the Bruins don’t do anything substantial to their defense and Moore can return to full health, he’s not a bad bottom-pairing solution to rotate among the youth, but that’s also the problem facing Boston.

They have too many bottom-pairing defenders with little to no upside and not enough jobs for each of them.

STEVEN KAMPFER (2-3—5 totals in 20 games)

Kampfer contributed a lot this season in a limited role as a seventh defender that ended up playing almost half the season and bounced back and forth between Providence and Boston on a few occasions.

Despite making his league debut in his first stint with the Bruins during the 2010-11 season, Kampfer never really made a full-time impact anywhere he went in the NHL, whether it was with the B’s, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Bruins again.

Now, he’s got a chance to make more money playing in the KHL and could flourish given his NHL development over his nine-year NHL career.

JACK AHCAN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Ahcan made his NHL debut this season with Boston and looked fine. Probably not ready for a full-time role, but just fine. That’s about it on that.

URHO VAAKANAINEN (0-2—2 totals in 9 games)

Vaakanainen is only 22, so if you’re going to freak out about development of a defender taking a normal length of time that it should take, then there’s not much else to say, I guess.

He recorded his first pair of points in the NHL in nine games this season and did fine, but probably will spend more time in Providence this season.

Starting Goaltender

TUUKKA RASK (15-5-2 in 24 GP, 24 GS, 2.28 GAA, .913 SV%, 2 SO)

Rask is a pending-UFA that won’t be able to play until January at the earliest while he recovers from offseason hip surgery. As one of the greatest goaltenders in league history— statistically speaking— as well as one of the best Finnish-born netminders, there will certainly be a lot of teams interested in his services regardless of when he can get back into the crease for the 2021-22 season.

But for Rask, there’s only one option— playing for Boston.

He’s been a Bruin ever since the Rask-for-Raycroft trade on June 24, 2006, that sent 2003-04 Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Andrew Raycroft, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a then considered expendable goaltending prospect in Rask.

Talk about one of the best deals for Boston since the Phil Esposito trade, which also landed the Bruins Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield for Jack Norris, Pit Martin and Gilles Marotte in return to Chicago on May 15, 1967.

Though some would consider that to be a “hockey trade”.

Rask’s indicated that he would like to be part of the transition in the crease as the B’s are expected to make Jeremy Swayman their full-time starter within the next two to three seasons (though out of necessity to start 2021-22) and he’s earned every right to wind down his career as he sees fit.

It’s Boston or bust and Rask is sure to come back for at least one more season before ultimately retiring.

Bruins GM, Don Sweeney, can take his time with a new deal for Rask— both with expansion in mind and as it relates to either starting the season on long term injured reserve or just signing No. 40 almost midway through the year.

Backup Goaltender

JEREMY SWAYMAN (7-3-0 in 10 GP, 10 GS, 1.50 GAA, .945 SV%, 2 SO)

With Tuukka Rask out until January (if he sticks around for another year in Boston), there’s good news and bad news for the Bruins in the crease.

The good news is that it looks like Swayman’s ready to start taking on a prominent role as a goaltender in the NHL.

The bad news is that it comes without Rask able to guide him as much in the first half of the season and because of the fact that Swayman’s developed into at least a surefire backup goaltender for the B’s, Jaroslav Halak is leaving in free agency to find a stable job elsewhere with another team.

Oh, plus if the defense doesn’t improve— from within or due to external influences, well…

At the very least, Boston should probably sign another goaltender to take some of the stress off of Swayman and Dan Vladar so they don’t try to rush the young phenom into too big of a role too quickly.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart’s 2020-21 season is the last thing you want to happen to Swayman, ultimately.

Third String Goaltender

JAROSLAV HALAK (9-6-4 in 19 GP, 17 GS, 2.53 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO)

Despite putting up a solid goals-against average for a backup goaltender in the NHL, two shutouts and winning almost ten games in a 56-game condensed season due to the ongoing pandemic, Halak was relegated to the third string goaltender role as Jeremy Swayman emerged and Tuukka Rask returned to the lineup at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Halak’s .905 save percentage was a bit low for the average backup (usually around .910) and a few of his outings didn’t do him any favors in the eyes of those that are tasked with assessing his game and figuring out whether he’s ready to go take the load off of the starter for a night.

Whether Halak ended up on Bruce Cassidy or Don Sweeney’s bad side doesn’t really matter here, though. His play was average to below-average while Swayman played lights out down the stretch.

Generally speaking, you go with the hotter goaltender more often than you don’t.

Halak’s short Bruins tenure has run its course after three seasons and though the 36-year-old didn’t win a Cup ring with Boston, he did exactly what he needed to for the organization and went above and beyond at times— winning the William M. Jennings Trophy for his second time with Rask in 2019-20.

Fourth String Goaltender

DAN VLADAR (2-2-1 in 5 GP, 5 GS, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO)

Vladar and the B’s were blown out by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, in his last start of the season in his 2020-21 campaign, but otherwise looked great in his regular season debut and subsequent minutes.

Though he’s likely projected as Boston’s backup goaltender in both the immediate sense with Jeremy Swayman as the projected starter for 2021-22 while Tuukka Rask is out due to offseason surgery, Vladar has the chance to solidify himself as a capable contender for the long-term starting job in a Bruins uniform or perhaps elsewhere if it comes down to that.

Right now, though, he’ll be Boston’s protected goaltender in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft since Rask and Jaroslav Halak are pending-UFAs and Swayman isn’t eligible to be exposed.

The Bruins will have tendered a qualifying offer to Callum Booth— the long-time taxi squad practice goaltender during the 2020-21 season, though the Kraken will likely pry a defender or a forward away from the organization instead.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Islanders will face Tampa in the Stanley Cup Semifinal

For the first time since 1979-84, the New York Islanders are heading to consecutive third round appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In “normal” years, the Islanders would be advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, however this season, in light of the ongoing global pandemic and subsequent temporary league realignment, New York is heading to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal as result of their, 6-2, win over the Boston Bruins on home ice on Wednesday.

Brock Nelson scored his second career series-clinching goal in the Game 6 victory at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, trailing only Mike Bossy (six series-clinching goals) and Clark Gillies (four series-clinching goals) for the most in an Islanders uniform in franchise history.

A raucous Long Island crowd cheered as their “New York Saints” goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (4-3, 2.63 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in seven games played), made 23 saves on 25 shots against to win the series 4-2 and eliminate the Bruins as a result.

At the other end of the rink, 34-year-old pending-unrestricted free agent goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-4, 2.45 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 11 games played), turned aside 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, fell to 33-33 in his postseason tenure behind the bench for the B’s (parts of five seasons) and dropped to 36-36 in his career as an NHL head coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Washington Capitals and the Bruins.

Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, improved to 25-17 overall in the postseason with New York, as well as 80-75 in his 22-year career as a head coach in the NHL, including 14 postseason appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Nashville Predators, Capitals and Islanders.

The Bruins were without Kevan Miller (upper body), Brandon Carlo (undisclosed) and Curtis Lazar (lower body) on Wednesday, while Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) remained shelved for the season.

As a result of Lazar’s injury, Jake DeBrusk was re-inserted into the lineup on the left side of the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and Karson Kuhlman on right wing.

Nick Ritchie was demoted to the fourth line with Sean Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner on right wing.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup for Game 6.

The Bruins had a long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players that included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Lazar, Jack Studnicka, Carlo, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh and Miller.

Midway through the opening frame, Noah Dobson sent a shot on goal that generated a rebound right to Travis Zajac (1) who buried the puck from point blank as Rask had yet to find the puck.

Dobson (7) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (9) tallied the assists on the goal as the Islanders jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:52 of the first period.

Moments later, Anthony Beauvillier tripped up Charlie McAvoy and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result with a minor infraction at 14:13– presenting Boston with the game’s first power play, but the Bruins couldn’t score on the ensuing advantage.

Instead, as Casey Cizikas tripped Taylor Hall, the B’s ended up on a 5-on-3 skater advantage at 16:00 of the first period.

It didn’t take long for Boston to convert on the two-skater advantage as the Bruins whipped the puck around the attacking zone, first from Matt Grzelcyk along the point to David Krejci as Grzelcyk kept the play onside, then Krejci to David Pastrnak for the fake-shot pass to Brad Marchand (7) for a catch-and-release goal while Varlamov was caught behind the play.

Marchand’s power-play goal tied the game, 1-1, at 17:36 and was assisted by Pastrnak (8) and Krejci (6).

The two clubs entered the first intermission even on the scoreboard, 1-1, despite New York leading in shots on goal, 12-10.

The Isles also held the advantage in takeaways (2-1), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (9-8), hits (15-13) and faceoff win percentage (65-35).

Both teams managed to have three giveaways each in the opening frame, while only Boston had experienced any time on the power play and went 1/2 on the advantage heading into the middle period.

Kyle Palmieri shouldered McAvoy in the face after a stoppage in play early in the second period, sending the B’s defender to the ice and down the tunnel, though no penalty was called on the play.

McAvoy would later return in the period after a few shifts.

Kuhlman tripped up Mathew Barzal and presented the Islanders with their first and only power play of the night at 2:18 of the second period, but New York couldn’t muster anything in the resulting special teams action.

The Isles did, however, catch the B’s in the vulnerable minute after an advantage, as Nelson (5) emerged with a short breakaway after New York stole the puck in the neutral zone and beat Rask low on the glove side.

Josh Bailey (5) and Nick Leddy (5) tallied the assists on Nelson’s goal as the Islanders went ahead, 2-1, at 5:20 of the second period.

Nelson (6) scored his second of the night– back-to-back– moments later as Rask sent an errant pass to Mike Reilly that was too hot to handle for the Bruins defender, which Bailey quickly took and dished to Nelson on the doorstep.

Bailey (6) had the only assist on Nelson’s would be eventual game-winning goal as the Islanders extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, at 12:39.

In the ensuing surge in momentum, Palmieri (7) managed to crash the net on a rebound and poke the loose puck through the Bruins goaltender to give New York a, 4-1, lead on an unassisted goal at 16:07.

Entering the second intermission, the Islanders led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 22-20, in shots on goal, despite both teams managing ten shots apiece in the second period alone.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (16-15), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (7-5), while Boston led in hits (26-23) and faceoff win% (61-40).

The Islanders were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Matt Martin tripped Jarred Tinordi at 5:20 of the third period and presented the Bruins with their final power play of the night.

It didn’t take Boston long as they won the resulting faceoff in the attacking zone before McAvoy sent it to Krejci as Marchand (8) wound up corralling Krejci’s quick dish in front and scored on a backhand shot while falling for his second goal of the night.

Krejci (7) and McAvoy (11) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 5:38 and the Bruins trailed, 4-2.

Unlike in Game 5, though, Boston wouldn’t get enough going thereafter to attempt a comeback.

With 1:22 remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled Rask for an extra attacker, but it quickly backfired for the Bruins as Cal Clutterbuck (3) was the benefactor of an open goal frame and added some insurance with an empty net goal to make it, 5-2, New York.

Pageau (10) and Cizikas (2) had the assists on Clutterbuck’s goal at 19:01 of the third period.

The B’s pulled Rask again for an extra skater with about 53 seconds left, but Ryan Pulock (3) used the power of geometry to angle the puck off the boards, clear it down the ice and watch as it trickled over the goal line into Boston’s empty net to extend New York’s lead, 6-2.

Pulock’s goal was unassisted at 19:12 of the third period as the final horn sounded shortly thereafter to give the Islanders the, 6-2, victory in Game 6 and a 4-2 series win.

The B’s had previously lost to the Islanders in five games in the 1980 Quarterfinal and in six games in the 1983 Wales Conference Final. They fell to 0-3 all-time in a best-of-seven series versus New York.

Though Marchand’s pair of goals was enough to tie Milan Lucic, Cam Neely and Rick Middleton for the second most goals (8) in an elimination game in a Bruins uniform in franchise history in Boston’s all-time postseason stats, it wasn’t enough to outpace the lack of a defense all night for Boston.

New York finished Wednesday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 29-25, including a, 7-5, advantage in the third period alone and held the advantage in blocked shots (23-21), while Boston exited Long Island leading in giveaways (13-9), hits (33-28) and faceoff win% (57-43) in Game 6.

The Isles finished the game 0/1 and the Bruins went 2/3 on the power play, despite losing, 6-2, on the final scoreboard.

The Islanders advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal round where they will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of their 2020 Eastern Conference Final series, in which the Bolts beat the Isles in six games before going on to defeat the Dallas Stars in another six games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

No information has been provided yet as to when the next round of the playoffs will begin (likely this weekend) as the Colorado Avalanche look to stave off elimination on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena against the Vegas Golden Knights, who lead their Second Round series 3-2.

The winner of Colorado/Vegas will face the Montréal Canadiens in the other Stanley Cup Semifinal matchup.

Tampa and the winner of the Avalanche vs. Golden Knights series will have home ice in the next round.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Pastrnak scores hat trick as Boston opens Second Round with a, 5-2, win

David Pastrnak joined the likes of Phil Esposito, Cam Neely, Johnny Bucyk and David Krejci as one of five players to record two or more postseason hat tricks in a Boston Bruins uniform in Saturday night’s, 5-2, victory over the New York Islanders in Game 1.

17,400 fans were in attendance at TD Garden to watch as the Bruins took a 1-0 series lead in their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round matchup with the Islanders as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in the state on Saturday.

Tuukka Rask (5-1, 1.84 goals-against average, .937 save percentage in six games played) made 20 saves on 22 shots against in the win for Boston.

New York netminder, Ilya Sorokin (4-1, 2.33 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in five games played) stopped 35 out of 39 shots against in the loss for the Islanders.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (upper body) and John Moore (hip) on Saturday, while Jeremy Lauzon returned to the lineup from an upper body injury.

Lauzon replaced Jarred Tinordi on the third defensive pairing and was slotted alongside Connor Clifton, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyhsyn, Jack Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller.

Notable New York forward and captain, Anders Lee, is out for the postseason with a knee injury.

Midway through the opening frame, Charlie McAvoy hooked Brock Nelson and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result, yielding the game’s first power play to the Islanders at 11:02 of the first period.

It didn’t take New York that much time to capitalize on the skater advantage as Anthony Beauvillier (4) deflected a shot through Rask underneath the blocker to give the Isles the night’s first lead, 1-0.

Noah Dobson (3) and Jordan Eberle (2) tallied the assists on Beauvillier’s power-play goal at 11:48 of the first period.

Late in the period, Andy Greene caught Charlie Coyle with a high stick and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 19:27 of the first period.

Special teams were wild as Pastrnak (3) picked up a rebound, held the puck for a second while Sorokin kept sliding across the crease, then buried the rubber biscuit on the far side over the glove.

Krejci (3) and Patrice Bergeron (2) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal as Boston tied the game, 1-1, at 19:36.

Entering the first intermission, the scoreboard was even at, 1-1, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 18-8.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (8-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while New York led in blocked shots (4-2), takeaways (7-2) and hits (21-13).

Both teams were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Nick Ritchie hooked Travis Zajac at 2:37 of the second period, but the Islanders weren’t able to score on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the middle frame, Pastrnak (4) sent a shot off of Islanders defender, Ryan Pulock, and over Sorokin’s blocker to give Boston their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Bergeron (3) and Brad Marchand (1) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night at 11:08 of the second period.

The Bruins did not hold their first lead of the night for long, however, as Adam Pelech (1) knotted things up, 2-2, with a one-timer over Rask’s glove– bar down– from downtown at the point at 12:34.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins and Islanders were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 30-12, including a, 12-4, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s also led in giveaways (11-6) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Isles led in blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (9-3) and hits (36-28) after two periods.

New York was 1/2 and Boston remained 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Boston botched a line change early in the third period, resulting in a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice at 4:02.

The Bruins managed to kill off the infraction and capitalized on a surge in momentum in the vulnerable minute thereafter as McAvoy (1) blasted a shot from the point– about where Pelech had scored his goal for the Islanders– and gave Boston a, 3-2, lead as a result.

Sean Kuraly and Ritchie worked the forecheck, while Krejci setup McAvoy for the one-timer while Ritchie screened Sorokin on the doorstep as the Bruins pulled ahead and never looked back at 6:20 of the third period.

Krejci (4) had the only assist on McAvoy’s goal, however.

Moments later, the Bruins tweeted that Craig Smith (lower body) would not return to the game, while Cassidy had already begun rotating wingers on the second line with Krejci and Taylor Hall.

Late in the period, Pastrnak (5) completed his hat trick on an individual effort as the Islanders turned the puck over in the neutral zone– leading No. 88 in black and gold to deke past a New York skater, cut to the middle and sent his shot over the blocker while Hall crashed the net as a screen.

The Bruins led, 4-2, as a result at 15:50 of the third period as Pastrnak notched his first hat trick in the postseason since amassing a six-point night in a, 7-3, victory in Game 2 of Boston’s 2018 First Round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 14, 2018.

With about 3:50 remaining in the action, Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Shortly thereafter, Mathew Barzal tripped Clifton and cut a rut to the sin bin as a result at 16:43.

In the dying seconds of the ensuing power play, Hall (3) buried the puck into the empty net at 18:35 for a power-play goal to seal the deal on Boston’s, 5-2, victory in Game 1.

Krejci (5) and Mike Reilly (3) tallied the assists as Hall didn’t give up on the play– giving Krejci three assists on the night in the process.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-2, and taken a 1-0 series lead as a result.

The Bruins finished Saturday night leading in shots on goal, 40-22, despite both teams managing to fire 10 shots on net each in the third period.

New York wrapped up the night’s action leading in blocked shots (9-7) and hits (49-42), while Boston led in giveaways (14-11) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Isles went 1/3 and the B’s went 2/2 on the power play on Saturday.

Having won Game 1, the Bruins lead the series 1-0 and look to go up 2-0 in the series in Game 2 on Monday night at TD Garden. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can tune to SN1 or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview: MassMutual NHL East Division

Nobody’s perfect.

Both in First Round prediction outcomes and in trying (and failing) to deliver predictions for each First Round series ahead of time.

The short excuse is that the overlap of the 2020-21 regular season and the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs made it difficult to finish compiling stats, writing game recaps and subsequently writing previews for each series that hadn’t already started.

Then it’s a matter of catching up.

Plus there’s a few other projects being worked on right now that you’ll hopefully get to see soon.

Granted, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this it’s because 1) you’re somehow an oddly dedicated fan of my random musings, 2) you’ve accidentally stumbled upon this blog or 3) you’re a potential employer trying to get a read on if this guy is actually desirable.

Anyway, the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is mostly over as only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens have yet to sort out who will be taking on the Winnipeg Jets in the Second Round of Scotia NHL North Division action.

For now, let’s just keep it simple with the MassMutual NHL East Division on the docket for Saturday and the Discover NHL Central Division and Honda NHL West Division on the calendar for Sunday, then we’ll go from there.

(3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Boston: 56 games played, .652 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Boston Bruins eliminated the Washington Capitals in five games (4-1) in the First Round and are poised to be in command of home ice advantage in their Second Round series matchup with the New York Islanders by virtue of being the higher seed as both MassMutual NHL East Division First Round matchups technically resulted in upset victories by the “underdogs”.

Sure, Boston has had a bit of recent playoff success riding the momentum of their last four consecutive seasons with at least one playoff series victory and New York improved to 5-1 all time against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stanley Cup Playoff series, but that’s besides the point.

The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2019-20, having recorded the league’s best regular season record at the time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, well, officially being declared a pandemic and cutting last year’s regular season short.

They entered 2020-21 as favorites to not only lead their division at season’s end, but contend for the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.

That… didn’t pan out, but it might actually be a benefit to the current roster to not be seen as the clear cut favorites on paper.

To remind everyone that didn’t read the First Round preview for Boston, the Bruins were led by Brad Marchand (29-40–69 totals in 53 games played) in the regular season, with Patrice Bergeron (23-25–48 totals in 54 games) and David Pastrnak (20-28–48 totals in 48 games) rounding out the top-three scorers on the team.

Through five games this postseason, the B’s look like they could be on the verge of something special as a plausible last hurrah for their current core with David Krejci and Tuukka Rask set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end and Father Time™️ eventually going to become a factor and catch up with the ageless wonders that are Bergeron and Marchand.

It’s likely that Rask will be back for another season or two to serve as a mentor for current backup goaltender, Jeremy Swayman, like how Tim Thomas played that role for the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender in the regular season and playoffs.

Or if you’re from outside the Boston market– think like what Pekka Rinne just did for the last two seasons in Nashville as Juuse Saros gradually took over as the starter for the Predators.

Krejci, on the other hand, has a bit more of a clouded future.

Bruins president, Cam Neely, told reporters earlier in the week that the organization has shelved talks of extensions with Rask and Krejci for after the postseason (a standard for the industry, especially with an expansion draft looming for the Seattle Kraken), but Neely was open to the idea of the two “one team” players spending their entire NHL careers in Boston.

That said, there’s always the possibility for retirement for Krejci or that he might go spend a few seasons in Czech Republic while winding down the twilight of his professional playing days.

None of that is relevant for the here and now, however.

Right now, the Bruins are focused on getting past the Islanders in the Second Round– a team that’s given them a bit of an inconsistent ride to say the least this season.

Boston dropped the first five games against New York, but won the last three meetings between the two clubs in the regular season.

That doesn’t actually say as much as one would think, since the Capitals had more recent success as the season progressed against Boston.

But then again, Washington did lose.

It’s also not like the B’s didn’t get better as the season went on– especially since they added Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly ahead of the trade deadline in April.

Boston has a legitimate top-six forward group and interchangeable components that can get the job done in the bottom-six, as well as a defense that has a mix of youth and experience– sans Kevan Miller for Game 1, at least, as Miller is out with an upper body injury, though Jarred Tinordi did fine for a bottom-pairing role in Game 5 against Washington.

Rask’s save percentage has gone up in each of his first five postseason games so far.

Through five games in the 2021 postseason, Pastrnak leads the team in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists), while bona fide stallion , Charlie McAvoy, has five assists and Bergeron (3-1–4 totals in five games) round out the top-three in postseason production thus far.

In the regular season, Rask led the way in the crease for the B’s with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts), a 2.28 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage, as well as a pair of shutouts in that span.

Jaroslav Halak started the season as Boston’s backup, but ended it as the third string netminder with a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts) for the Bruins with a 2.53 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 2020-21.

Swayman emerged as Rask and Halak spent time out of the lineup due to injury, as well as an extended stay in COVID protocol for the latter goaltender (perhaps affecting Halak’s performance as a result).

But before Swayman amassed a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts), as well as a 1.50 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts, Dan Vladar made five appearances (all starts) and earned a 2-2-2-1 record to go along with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage.

Don’t let Vladar’s numbers fool you, however, as one desperate start on the second night of a back-to-back against the Capitals sank otherwise decent stats for the projected backup to Swayman someday on Boston’s depth chart.

In the postseason, Rask has put up a 4-1 record in five games with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

So in other words, it’s midseason form for No. 40 for the black and gold.

Gerry Cheevers has faith in Rask.

At the other end of the rink, the Islanders utilized head coach, Barry Trotz’s, patented trap to stupefy Pittsburgh’s potent offense in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while also appearing to not really have to do that much to beat Tristan Jarry in the crease in six games (4-2).

This time we mean it. Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is on its last legs.

Next season, the Isles will be opening up their new home at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York– making the “long” trek from Uniondale, New York to their new address.

Both TD Garden and the Coliseum are expected to have near full capacity crowds for the entirety of the series, so if you already couldn’t stand Boston and Long Island enough for some reason, expect the crowds to be as loud and as obnoxious as ever.

That said, we could all use a good laugh and some release from the last year and a half of pain, grief and suffering. Hopefully the cheers and jeers do not veer into the distasteful.

It is, after all, just a game.

Anyway, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal (17-28–45 totals in 55 games) this season, while Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games), Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) rounded out the top-three in team scoring in 2020-21.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way with a 19-11-4 record in 36 games (35 starts), as well as a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and seven shutouts in the regular season.

Ilya Sorokin was the backup netminder for New York and amassed a 13-6-3 record in 22 games (21 starts) and had a 2.17 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and three shutouts in the process.

Through six postseason games, Anthony Beauvillier (3-4–7 totals) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1-6–7 totals) are tied for the team lead in playoff scoring, while Bailey and Nelson rank tied for third on the roster with six points (three goals, three assists for each player).

Varlamov’s gone 0-2 in two games (two starts) and has a 3.61 goals-against average, as well as a .903 save percentage, while Sorokin has taken over with the hot hands in net– amassing a 4-0 record in four games (four starts) and an equally impressive goal against average (1.95) and save percentage (.943) as Rask’s numbers for Boston thus far in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Isles captain Anders Lee remains out of the lineup with a lower body injury that ended his season after 27 games in 2020-21.


These two teams are meeting for the third time in a series, with the Islanders holding a 2-0 all time record, having defeated the Bruins in five games (4-1) in the 1980 Quarterfinal and in six games (4-2) in the 1983 Wales Conference Final.

Both times that New York defeated Boston, the Isles went on to win the Stanley Cup.

In the 2020-21 regular season, however, the Bruins went 3-3-2 in eight games against New York, while the Islanders went 5-2-1 against Boston.

New York outscored Boston, 21-18, in that span, though the Bruins held the advantage in total shots on goal over the course of their regular season series, 269-216.

Stellar goaltending has been a constant for both teams, outside of the odd, 7-2, win for the Islanders on Feb. 25th against the B’s.

The Bruins have Hall, the Islanders have Kyle Palmieri.

Depth scoring is paramount, especially if New York’s trap can get to Boston’s first line as effective as they were against Pittsburgh’s first line.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, is a dynamic coach, however, while Trotz might continue to go back to the well even if it’s starting to run dry– simply out of the comfort and ease of familiarity.

This series has all the makings of being a long, grueling battle that could see Boston victorious over the Islanders for the first time in the postseason in seven games when all is said and done.

Regular season outcomes:

1-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 18th

4-2 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 13th

7-2 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 25th

2-1 F/SO NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 9th

4-3 F/OT NYI at TD Garden on March 25th

4-1 BOS at TD Garden on April 15th

3-0 BOS at TD Garden on April 16th

3-2 F/OT BOS at TD Garden on May 10th

Schedule:

5/29- Game 1 NYI @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, SN360, TVAS2

5/31- Game 2 NYI @ BOS 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN1, TVAS

Games 3 and 4, as well as 5 through 7 (if necessary) have yet to be announced by the league at the time of this writing.