The salary cap isn’t going up as much as everyone hoped. Also, there were plenty of trades, buyouts and extensions handed out in the last week. Nick, Colby, Cap’n and Pete examine each move and pick 2019 NHL Awards winners.
The Battle For Gloria rages on with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues tied 2-2 in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Nick and Pete also discuss the latest coaching moves (Dave Tippett, Bob Boughner, Marc Crawford), trades (Kevin Hayes) and rumors (Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Phil Kessel), while Nick introduces a new game segment that has Pete stumped.
Nick and Pete discuss whether or not it’s worth pursuing Pavel Datsyuk this summer, the Adam Fox trade and what it means for the New York Rangers, as well as more Second Round musings in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the win, Rask (14-8-3 record, 2.42 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 25 games played) tied Tiny Thompson for the most career wins in Bruins franchise history as he earned his 252nd win in a Boston sweater.
Rask made 28 saves on 30 shots against for a .933 SV% on Thursday night en route to victory.
Blues goaltender, Jake Allen (15-15-4, 3.04 GAA, .897 SV% in 36 GP), stopped 22 out of 26 shots faced for an .846 SV% in the loss.
St. Louis is now 4-1-1 in their last six road games as Boston rebounded from a, 4-3, loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center.
The B’s improved to 17-4-3 when scoring first this season and are now 27-16-5 (59 points) overall on the season– good enough to remain in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division. The Blues fell to 20-21-5 (45 points) and remained in 6th place in the Central Division.
Cassidy also put John Moore back alongside Kevan Miller on the third defensive pairing, but after the two were on the ice for both St. Louis goals, the Bruins head coach limited their time on ice for the third period– sitting both defenders for about the final 15 minutes of action.
As a result of his lineup decisions, Matt Grzelcyk and Noel Acciari joined Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday, while Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibula fracture) remains out of the lineup due to injury.
St. Louis did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.
Late in the opening period, after being on the receiving end of a couple of big hits– including one on Charlie McAvoy— Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, decided he’d take matters into his own hands to defend his teammates who were taking a bit of a beating in the physical department.
Chara dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs with Patrick Maroon at 17:30 of the first period and successfully got the take down to the eruption of the home crowd.
It was the first fight of the season for No. 33 in black-and-gold (Chara last fought on March 1, 2018) and his 1,452 career NHL game– surpassing Teemu Selanne for 3rd all-time among European born NHL players.
The Bruins and Blues went into their dressing rooms for the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard.
Boston held the advantage in shots on goal (13-9) after one period of play, while St. Louis led in giveaways (11-3) and hits (17-8). Both teams had four blocked shots each, five takeaways each and were 50-50 in face-off win percentage through 20 minutes of play.
The Blues were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Early in the middle frame, Peter Cehlarik got his stick between the legs of Ryan O’Reilly and tripped up the St. Louis forward. Cehlarik was sent to the sin bin with a minor penalty for tripping at 1:01 of the second period.
St. Louis did not convert on their second skater advantage of the night.
Shortly after killing off Cehlarik’s minor, Boston capitalized on the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Krejci found Torey Krug (5) wide open in the slot where the B’s defender had worked his way in to send a wrist shot past Allen, giving the Bruins the lead, 1-0, at 3:31.
Krejci (28) and Cehlarik (1) notched the assists on Krug’s first goal in 13 games.
The young Boston defenseman now has 20 points in his last 20 games, while Cehlarik has three points (two goals, one assist) in his first two games this season after making his 2018-19 season debut Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Just 52 seconds after Boston got on the scoreboard first, St. Louis responded with a goal of their own.
O’Reilly (17) pocketed one on a mostly empty net as Rask made the initial couple of saves– including one in desperation– while his teammates were scrambling in their own zone.
Boston descended into a bit of a lull in the middle frame as St. Louis emerged as a more dominant team in possession and shots on goal through the second period.
Carl Gunnarsson (1) ripped a shot past Rask’s glove side after another defensive breakdown in the Bruins own zone led to the first lead change of the night as the Blues took the lead, 2-1, at 13:36.
Less than a minute later, Robert Bortuzzo cross-checked Sean Kuraly and was penalized at 14:03.
The Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the night, entering Thursday with the 2nd best power play completion percentage in the league at 28%, despite going 1/4 against the Flyers on Wednesday.
Late in their skater advantage, Chara blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Backes (5) and into the net behind Allen while Backes was taking the brunt of a check in front of the goal.
Backes’ goal tied the game, 2-2, at 16:00 of the second period and was assisted by Chara (3) and Krejci (29).
Wagner took a quick trip to the penalty box for (wait for it) tripping Schwartz at 16:40, but the ensuing power play for the Blues was short lived as St. Louis was penalized for too many men on the ice at 18:11.
After about 25 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Bruins would have an abbreviated power play that’d barely extended into the third period. Spoiler alert, Boston did not convert on the abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.
Entering the second intermission, the game was tied, 2-2, and the Bruins led in shots on goal, 21-20, despite being outshot by St. Louis, 11-8, in the second period alone.
The B’s led in blocked shots (12-7) and face-off win% (59-41) after two periods, while the Blues led in takeaways (12-10), giveaways (14-8) and hits (23-19).
Since there were no penalties called in the third period, St. Louis finished the night 0/3 on the power play after 40 minutes, while Boston went 1/2.
Wagner (6) dangled the puck to his backhand, fooling Allen and forcing the Blues goaltender to commit to his right side, before pulling the puck back to his forehand and scoring on a largely open net to put the Bruins ahead, 3-2.
Forsbacka Karlsson (5) had the only assist on Wagner’s goal at 5:27 of the third period.
About eight minutes later, Brad Marchand (18) found a rebound on his stick and put it in the back of the twine to give Boston a two-goal lead, making it, 4-2 at 13:12.
McAvoy (11) and Patrice Bergeron (26) had the assists on the goal after Bergeron won the face-off in the offensive zone and McAvoy wrapped around the net and fired the shot that rebounded off of Allen’s pads to Marchand’s stick for the goal.
With about 3:20 remaining in regulation, Craig Berube pulled his netminder for an extra skater in a last ditch effort to score two quick goals and tie the game.
After a stoppage with 1:46 remaining, Berube used his team’s timeout, but it was too little, too late.
Kuraly (6) fixed what Wagner couldn’t complete on two chances on the empty net in Boston’s offensive zone (Wagner almost pulled a Patrik Stefan— look it up, it’s worth your time).
Krejci (30) and Wagner (5) collected the assists on Kuraly’s empty net goal that made it, 5-2, at 19:08.
At the final horn, Boston had beaten St. Louis, 5-2, despite being outshot, 30-27.
The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (15-11) and face-off win% (54-46), while the Blues led in giveaways (25-13) and hits (29-23).
Rask improved to 6-0-1 in his last seven starts with the win and will likely get the start in Boston’s next game.
The Bruins take on the New York Rangers Saturday night on home ice in their final game before going on their bye week and the All Star break. David Pastrnak is the only representative from the team with the spoked-B at the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend festivities at SAP Center in San Jose this year.
Boston resumes play after the break on Tuesday, January 29th against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden before closing out the month of January with another home game on the 31st against the Flyers.
Nick and Connor review the Vegas Golden Knights draft history, praise Carter Hart’s NHL debut, talk about Scott Gordon’s introduction as interim head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the Patrik Berglund situation, Whalers Night and a teaser 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship preview.
*Editor’s note: Paris is hosting the 2024 Summer Games and Los Angeles is hosting the 2028 Summer Games. The 2026 and 2030 Winter Games host cities have yet to be selected.
Anthony Cirelli’s shorthanded goal in the third period was enough to hold off a potential comeback from the Boston Bruins Thursday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning went on to win, 3-2, at Amalie Arena.
Louis Domingue (12-4-0, 3.07 goals against average, .903 save percentage in 14 games played) made 33 saves on 35 shots against for a .943 SV% in the win for the Bolts, while Tuukka Rask (6-6-2, 2.62 GAA, .914 SV% in 14 GP) stopped 27 out of 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins have now lost four out of their last five games and have fallen to 14-10-4 (32 points) on the season– sliding to 5th place in the Atlantic Division and the 2nd wild card in the Eastern Conference as a result of the Montreal Canadiens’ win over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night.
Tampa improved to 22-7-1 (45 points) on the season and remained 1st in the Atlantic with the win.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, Charlie McAvoy was activated from the injured reserve and set to partake in pregame warmups. Kevan Miller was placed on the injured reserve having sustained a throat injury on Nov. 26th in Toronto.
The Bruins claimed Gemel Smith off waivers from the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Smith, 24, had two goals and one assist (three points) in 14 games for Dallas this season.
As a result of their roster moves, Connor Clifton was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) after appearing in nine games for Boston– including his NHL debut– this season.
Boston also announced five of their prospects that will be attending preliminary World Junior camps for their respective countries next week, including D Daniel Bukac and F Jakob Lauko for Czech Republic, G Kyle Keyser for Team USA, F Pavel Shen for Russia and F Jack Studnicka for Team Canada.
The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship is being held in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia and begins later this month with round robin group play.
Bruce Cassidy shook up the lines with McAvoy returning from an upper body injury (concussion) after missing the last 20 games. The 20-year-old defender was paired with John Moore on the bottom defensive pair with Matt Grzelcyk playing alongside Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug partnered with Steven Kampfer (back in the lineup since being a healthy scratch for the last two games).
Jeremy Lauzon joined Smith and Chris Wagner as Boston’s healthy scratches, while Zdeno Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Miller (throat) remain out of the lineup.
Among the forwards, Cassidy left the first line of Brad Marchand, Colby Cave and David Pastrnak intact, while placing Joakim Nordstrom to the left of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was back in the lineup– centering the third line with Ryan Donato to his left and Noel Acciari to his right– and Danton Heinen was demoted to the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and David Backes with Wagner scratched.
Pastrnak (20) recorded the game’s first goal at 2:04 of the first period on a rebound given up by Domingue after Cave initially recorded a shot on goal. Pastrnak collected the puck with Domingue out of position and buried the loose puck in the twine to reach the 20-goal plateau for the third consecutive season.
Cave (2) had the only assist on the goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.
Only Jaromir Jagr needed fewer than 28 games to reach 20 goals in a season among all Czech born NHLers in history.
After surviving an early onslaught from the B’s, the Lightning tied the game late in the opening frame with Brayden Point (21) firing a wicked wrist shot past Rask on a backhand pass from Nikita Kucherov.
McAvoy mishandled the puck, leaving Tyler Johnson in position to swipe at the rubber biscuit a couple of times before flinging a pass to Kucherov for the backhand drop pass to Point for the tying goal, 1-1.
Kucherov (31) and Johnson (9) had the assists on Point’s goal at 14:59.
Point now has 12 goals and seven assists (19 points) in his last 12 games.
Moments later, McAvoy was charged with the first penalty of the game for hooking Point at 18:50 while the Lightning forward was in the attacking zone. Tampa did not convert on the ensuing power play that would carry over into the second period.
Entering the first intermission, the game was tied, 1-1, and the Bolts were outshooting the Bruins, 15-11. Tampa also led in takeaways (5-3), while Boston led in blocked shots (10-4) and face-off win percentage (56-44). Both teams had two giveaways each and 12 hits aside.
The Lightning were 0/1 on the power play after one period.
Victor Hedman tripped up Donato almost midway through the second period and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the night– 7:04 into the middle frame.
Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Neither team was able to break the tie as things went on in the second period and by the second intermission, the Bruins were outshooting the Lightning, 23-21. Boston led Tampa in shots, 12-6, in the second period alone.
The Bolts led in giveaways (9-4) and in hits (25-18) after two periods and the B’s maintained an advantage in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (10-8) and face-off win% (52-48).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Mathieu Joseph (9) picked up the puck on an unforced turnover, waltzed past Carlo and tucked the puck underneath Rask to give the Lightning their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Alex Killorn (10) and Dan Girardi (6) had the primary and secondary assists on Joseph’s goal at 2:40 of the third period.
About a minute later, Domingue sent the puck over the glass and was charged with a delay of game minor at 3:49.
While on the penalty kill, Steven Stamkos broke up a play by Backes as the grizzled Bruins veteran tried to work the puck back to Marchand, which led to Anthony Cirelli (5) scooping up the loose puck and skating right by Pastrnak and Marchand as the Boston forwards helplessly trailed behind.
Cirelli avoided a poke check from Rask with just enough of a deke to slip the biscuit past the Bruins netminder and into the goal at 4:03 of the third period. Cirelli’s short handed tally was unassisted and gave Tampa a two-goal lead, 3-1.
With a little under two minutes remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker.
Krejci (3) fired a slap shot from the point at 18:15 (assisted by Pastrnak (12) and Backes (3)– the three David’s united!) and scored his first goal in 19 games to pull the Bruins within one, but it wasn’t enough.
As the final horn sounded, the Bruins suffered their third straight loss as the Lightning won their fifth game in-a-row. Tampa struck down Boston, 3-2, on the scoreboard, despite being outshot, 35-30.
The Bolts finished the game with the advantage in giveaways (10-6) and hits (33-22), while the Bruins led in face-off win% (56-44). Both teams had 16 blocked shots each and the Lightning were 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/2.
Tampa improved to 6-2-0 when tied after one period and Boston fell to 3-3-3 when tied after 20 minutes.
Boston travels home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday before traveling to Ottawa to face the Senators on Sunday. The Bruins then host the Arizona Coyotes next Tuesday before a two-day break and a one-game road trip to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins next Friday.
Mitch Marner led the way with three assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs– sans Auston Matthews for the 14th time this season due to his shoulder injury– as Josh Leivo had the game-winning goal late in the second period to defeat the Boston Bruins, 4-2, at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.
Frederik Andersen (13-7-0, .932 save percentage, 2.22 goals against average in 20 games played) had 38 saves on 40 shots against for a .950 SV% in the win for Toronto, while Jaroslav Halak (8-3-2, .936 SV%, 2.05 GAA in 15 GP) made 27 saves on 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the loss.
Patrick Marleau participated in his 1,600th career NHL game Monday night– becoming the 11th player in league history to reach 1,600 games, joining Gordie Howe (1,767 games played), Mark Messier (1,756 GP), Jaromir Jagr (1,733 GP), Ron Francis (1,731 GP), Mark Recchi (1,652 GP), Chris Chelios (1,651 GP), Dave Andreychuk (1,639 GP), Scott Stevens (1,635 GP), Larry Murphy (1,615 GP) and Ray Bourque (1,612 GP).
Marleau was originally drafted 2nd overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks and signed a three-year contract with Toronto on July 2, 2017 after spending 1997-2017 with San Jose.
And if you’ve been under a rock since the Maple Leafs signed John Tavares this summer, William Nylander is still unsigned and has until *checks calendar* 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign a deal and participate in the 2018-19 season.
Anyway, with the win on Monday, Toronto improved to 17-8-0 (34 points) on the season and remained 3rd in the Atlantic Division, while Boston fell to a 13-7-4 record (30 points) and stayed in 4th in the Atlantic.
Bruce Cassidy juggled his bottom-six forwards and defensive pairs Monday night with Anders Bjork back in the lineup on the third line to the left of Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari after having been a healthy scratch since Nov. 23rd.
John Moore started the night on the first defensive pair as the left shot to Kevan Miller‘s right shot on the blue line with Torey Krug remaining partners with Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon on the third pair with Matt Grzelcyk.
Brandon Carlo (upper body), Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Charlie McAvoy (concussion) remained sidelined due to injury, though Carlo and McAvoy could be back as early as this week.
A tight goaltending battle began to unwind late in the first period as the Bruins couldn’t clear their own zone and the Maple Leafs capitalized on their chances.
Travis Dermott (1) notched his first goal of the season to give Toronto the 1-0 lead at 17:44 of the first period. Marner (25) had the only assist on the goal.
Miller took an errant puck to the throat area prior to the goal and went down the tunnel to the dressing room. Boston later tweeted during the second intermission that he would not return to Monday night’s action.
After one period the Leafs held onto a, 1-0, lead, while trailing in shots on goal to the Bruins, 10-9. The B’s had an advantage in blocked shots (6-4), but Toronto dominated just about every other stat category entering the first intermission leading in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (5-4), hits (8-7) and face-off win percentage (72-28). Neither team had yet to see any action on the extra skater advantage on the power play.
Par Lindholm hooked Moore early in the middle frame and the Bruins had their first power play of the night at 1:55 of the second period.
On the ensuing power play, Marchand worked a pass through the crease to Pastrnak (18) on the right side of Andersen for the shot on goal from close range that hit the twine, yielding a power play goal and tying the game, 1-1.
Marchand (16) and Krug (9) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 3:39 of the second period and Boston came to life for a few moments thanks to the swing in momentum.
Toronto followed up Lindholm’s penalty with a minor infraction for too many men on the ice at 10:48. The bench minor was served by Frederik Gauthier and the B’s did not convert on the resulting power play.
Instead, Gauthier played a key role fresh out of the box while the Bruins skaters still on the ice from the advantage in strength had tired legs and the Maple Leafs made them pay.
Igor Ozhiganov (1) notched his first career National Hockey League goal off the right post and past Halak at 13:06 of the second period. Marner (26) and Gauthier (3) had the assists and the Leafs once again had a one-goal lead, 2-1.
Just over a minute later, Pastrnak (19) worked his magic again thanks to a slap pass from Krug to the young Bruins winger in front of the goal, whereby Pastrnak deked enough for Andersen to overcommit and give way to a mostly empty goal for Pastrnak to slip the puck past the Toronto netminder and into the twine.
Boston tied the game, 2-2, on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night– assisted by Krug (10) and Marchand (17)– at 14:22.
With the Bruins mounting a crescendo in the middle period, the Maple Leafs worked to play smarter, not harder as Toronto started to regain dominant control of zone time possession and drew a penalty after Bjork was sloppy with his stick and tripped up Tyler Ennis at 16:58 of the second period.
If Boston could’ve held off the Leafs onslaught on the power play for just 20 more seconds things might have been different, but an inexperienced penalty killing unit allowed Toronto to waltz into the attacking zone with ease and set up Leivo (4) for the power play goal and eventual game-winner at 18:38.
Ennis (3) and Marleau (9) had the assists and Toronto led, 3-2.
Heading into the second intermission, the Bruins trailed by a goal, but led in shots on goal, 28-18. Boston had 18 shots on goal in the second period, which was a season high for the club in one period.
Toronto led in takeaways (5-3), giveaways (10-5), hits (19-14) and face-off win% (55-45), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (13-12). The Maple Leafs were 1/1 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2.
Midway through the third period, Jake DeBrusk had a brush with near-injury after he was pushed down in front of the goal by Nikita Zaitsev while Danton Heinen unloaded a one-timed shot on goal, hitting DeBrusk square in the back of the head.
It appeared the puck caught nothing but helmet, but DeBrusk felt the vulcanized rubber biscuit nonetheless and took a second to get up before continuing to play after a quick stoppage.
With 2:37 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Toronto took their time to wait it out and gather the puck before sending Zach Hyman (4) in all alone for the empty net goal at 18:25 of the third period.
Tavares (13) and Marner (27) had the assists on the insurance goal for the Leafs, as Toronto put away the Bruins, 4-2.
At the final horn, Boston suffered the loss while outshooting Toronto, 40-31, after 60 minutes of play. The Maple Leafs actually led in shots on goal in the third period alone, however, 13-12, and maintained the advantage in blocked shots (22-17), giveaways (16-11), hits (23-19) and face-off win% (57-43).
The Leafs finished the night 1/1 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/2.
The Maple Leafs improved to 11-0-0 when scoring first this season and 12-0-0 when leading after two periods. Boston is now 0-6-1 when trailing after 40 minutes this season.
After going 1-1-0 on their two-game road swing through Montreal and Toronto, the Bruins return home to TD Garden for a matchup against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Boston will retire Rick Middleton‘s No. 16 sweater before the game and fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. ET to witness the ceremony and jersey retirement.
I’ve been away from the blog for a week (shouts road trips) and look what happens– the Boston Bruins are off to a 1-1-1 start on a four-game road trip, having lost in Colorado, 6-3, against the Avalanche on Nov. 14th, then losing in overtime, 1-0, to the Dallas Stars on Nov. 16th before beating the Arizona Coyotes, 2-1, on Nov. 17th thanks to goals from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (his first career National Hockey League goal) and Jake DeBrusk (8)– so there’s a quick little recap for you, if you’ve been wondering where the last two games have been around here on the site.
Oh and the Bruins have reached the quarter-mark of the regular season having completed 20 games, which means it’s time to update my forecasted stats for Boston.
Really couldn’t have timed a quick trip outside of New England better than I did, thank you very much.
In all seriousness, the Bruins lost Zdeno Chara due to injury in Colorado– leaving my personal road trip off to a poor taste– then Patrice Bergeron went down with an injury in Dallas while I helplessly streamed the radio broadcast from the NHL app in a hotel room.
The Hockey Gods don’t believe in having fun outside of the sport.
My neurotic bumblings were eased with the support of the “next man up” mentality in the dressing room and, well, Connor Clifton beating the crap out of a guy against the Stars in his first career NHL fight (in his NHL debut, nonetheless).
That guy being Jason Spezza, who’s actually kind of a big deal and not a jerk(?).
Anyway, Boston is 5th in the Atlantic Division through 20 games played this season with an 11-6-3 record (25 points), a plethora of injuries and a lackluster depth scoring situation.
Through 20 games last season, the B’s were 9-7-4 (22 points) and 4th in the division.
This season, 25 points in the Eastern Conference is good enough for the 2nd wild card spot (for now). Last season, 22 points wasn’t good enough to be ahead of the playoff cutoff line.
If anything, they’re managing to weather the storm well, despite having more injuries to the roster this year than this time last November– but they’re still not showing signs of the dominant Eastern Conference team that we saw from January through March of last season.
Peaking at the right time is of the utmost importance in sports.
In high school, when you’re running the mile, it’s the second lap that’s the most important before you begin to drop the hammer on the third lap and go all out on the fourth lap. The second lap is make or break.
For Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals last season it meant having Holtby get off to a rocky start, lose his starting job for the first two games of the postseason, then go on to win the Stanley Cup by virtue of Holtby regaining his rhythm on top of the ridiculous depth scoring capabilities of guys like Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly.
For the Bruins last season, it meant being in contention for the President’s Trophy hunt late into the regular season, falling short, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the First Round, then being too worn down to even match the compete level of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Second Round.
Boston was done in five games– 12 postseason games total.
What all of this has to do with this season is that basically, the Bruins are a combination of the team on the ice last season and their mirror image below-average start to this season as Washington had last season.
Their starting netminder has struggled, their scoring depth isn’t apparent and they’re clinging to a playoff berth.
In other words, it’s too early to rule them out– as evidenced last season, Mike.
But– and this the important part– the window for optimal peak performance is closing. The B’s are running the second lap of the mile in high school track right now, if you will.
Another ten games of whatever has plagued them from October until now will leave them just barely on the outside of the postseason looking in like the Florida Panthers did last season with 96 points.
They won’t set a PR (personal record), nor will they get a chance to compete for the Cup.
Tuukka Rask is back from his personal leave of absence and kept Boston close in Dallas, despite allowing the game’s only goal– in overtime– with a defense that featured Torey Krug as the only regular, Matt Grzelcyk as the usual seventh defender turned regular for now and Steven Kampfer as the go-to blue liner when Chara, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy and John Moore are all out of the lineup.
Plus Jakub Zboril and Clifton made their NHL debuts in Dallas, with Jeremy Lauzon continuing to see ice-time since Urho Vaakanainen was an emergency recall that sustained a concussion in his 2nd career game while in Ottawa.
We haven’t seen what a full, well-rested, Bruins lineup is capable of yet so far this season.
They spent training camp and part of the preseason with split squads and most of their NHL regulars in China, returned with jet-lag that slowed their legs down through the first couple of weeks of October, got banged up and since then have been waiting for the return of… everyone? Is that fair to say at this point?
Without further ado, here’s an updated look at the forecasted stats for the Bruins roster. As always, keep in mind there are many variables that can or will change things as seen here due to injuries, being a healthy scratch, being assigned to the minors (or called up), sickness and general hot and cold streaks unbeknownst to the formulas of Microsoft Excel.
My degree is in communication– not math.
These forecasted stats are an utopian outlook on the remaining 62 games of the regular season for Boston. If a player exceeds the forecast, they’ve exceeded expectations. If a player matches the forecast, they’ve met expectations. If a player falls short, they were either hurt a lot or simply didn’t live up to expectations.
Hockey is both quantifiably predictable because of its concrete stats (goals, assists, points– everything on the scoresheet each night) and certifiably unpredictable due to its collective nature and sheer puck luck.
Boston Bruins Forecast Through 20 Games (62 Games Remaining)
One player that’s been consistent all season long thus far is David Pastrnak. Brad Marchand‘s become more of a playmaker through the first 20 games while Pastrnak’s emerged as a superstar in the making– drawing comparisons to Jaromir Jagr from Czech Republic’s other legendary player, Petr Klima.
Pastrnak’s success should land him his third consecutive season amassing 70 points or more, while also surpassing the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career. In doing so, Pastrnak would be the first 40-goal scorer for the Bruins since Glen Murray had 44 goals in 2002-03.
With Bergeron missing some games due to injury, David Krejci looks to reemerge as the leading assist collector for the B’s, reaching 46 expected assists this season.
In the meantime, DeBrusk surpasses the 20-goal plateau and solidifies himself as a top-six forward, while Danton Heinen continues to grow as a candidate for top-six minutes in spite of Boston not having a guy like Artemi Panarin alongside Krejci and DeBrusk.
On defense, Krug rebounds from missing time to a 43-point season, leading McAvoy (38 expected points) and crew in scoring from the point.
Though Jaroslav Halak has won playing time with the hot hands in goal at the quarter-mark, Rask settles into his rhythm with an expected goals against average of 2.32 and an expected save percentage of .920 to backstop his team to perhaps one of the best 1-2 matchups in net– if not, 1A-1B– of the entire league.
Halak, in the meantime, should cool to a 2.43 GAA and .919 SV%, but both numbers are highly valuable for backup goaltending duties especially if the Bruins can continue to get healthy and limit the shot attempts against.
Healthy competition for playing time in the crease isn’t a bad thing if both goaltenders are performing thanks to a limited workload from their teammates.
The next forecast review (through 40 games played) should determine whether or not the Bruins are serious playoff contenders or large-scale pretenders with a lot to lose in 2018-19.
Nick and Connor rant about retired numbers, anniversary patches, showing emotion in hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander, coaches that might get fired, “the code” and Mike Matheson’s antics.