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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.

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Bruins thrash Capitals in, 7-3, road victory

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a pair of goals, but both players paled in comparison to Matt Grzelcyk’s five-point night (one goal, four assists) as the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals, 7-3, at Capital One Arena on Monday night.

Grzelcyk (1-4–5) became the first Bruins defender to score five points in a game since Ray Bourque (0-5–5) also had five points against the Capitals in an, 8-2, win at Boston Garden on Jan. 2, 1994.

Linus Ullmark (11-5-0, 2.57 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 16 games played) made 27 saves on 30 shots against in the win for Boston.

Washington goaltender, Zach Fucale (1-1-1, 1.74 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in four games played), stopped 12 out of 16 shots faced before being replaced by Vitek Vanecek almost midway in the second period.

Vanecek (6-4-5, 2.62 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 17 games played) had 12 saves on 15 shots in relief of Fucale for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 19-11-2 (40 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Capitals fell to 20-8-9 (49 points) overall despite holding onto 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s are now 1-0-0 against the Caps so far this season and went 4-2-2 against Washington last season.

Charlie McAvoy made his return to the blue line for Boston after missing the last two games due to a lower body injury.

McAvoy suited up alongside Grzelcyk in his usual spot on the first defensive pairing on Monday, while Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton joined Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.

As a result of Forbort and Clifton’s absence, Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore were made the de facto third pairing defenders in Washington, D.C.

Karson Kuhlman also made his return to action for the Bruins since being placed in COVID protocol on Jan. 1st and missing the last four games.

With Nick Foligno (lower body) out against the Capitals, Trent Frederic was promoted to the third line left wing role, while Curtis Lazar centered the fourth line and Kuhlman slid in on the right side.

In summary, the B’s were without Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID protocol), Steven Fogarty (taxi squad), Troy Grosenick (taxi squad), Jakub Zboril (right ACL), DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Clifton (COVID protocol) and Nosek (COVID protocol) on Wednesday.

DeBrusk is expected to be cleared from the league’s COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday and practice with the team and may be in the lineup on Wednesday as Boston plays host to the Montréal Canadiens.

Conor Sheary kicked things off with a right place, right time calculated effort as Nic Dowd dumped the puck off the endboards, whereby Ullmark misplayed the puck and Brandon Carlo was out of position as Sheary (9) picked up the loose puck and scored on a backhand shot.

Dowd (5) and Garnet Hathaway (6) tallied the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the game as the Capitals took a, 1-0, lead at 3:02 of the first period.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Grzelcyk was penalized for interference, yielding the night’s first power play to Washington at 8:33, though the Caps couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Grzelcyk, at first, didn’t do much to redeem himself on the night after giving the puck away to Sheary (10) in the slot for a one-timer goal of sorts over Ullmark’s glove after Grzelcyk returned from the box.

Sheary’s unassisted effort gave Washington a, 2-0, lead on his second goal of the game at 12:32 of the first period.

Before long, however, the Capitals became undisciplined.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was penalized for holding at 13:27 and the Bruins went on their first power play of the night as a result.

Boston got a two-skater advantage about a minute later when Dowd took a chunk off of Marchand’s nose with a high stick at 14:42– leaving Marchand bloody and Dowd with a double-minor infraction as a result.

The B’s earned a 5-on-3 power play for 43 seconds until that, too, was cut short by Patrice Bergeron bumping into Lars Eller without the puck.

Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for interference at 15:09 and the Bruins held onto a rare 4-on-3 advantage for about 15 seconds before the two teams played at 4-on-4 for a span of 1:42.

While Dowd was still in the box serving his double-minor, however, John Carlson delivered a swift cross check to Erik Haula’s backside and was penalized at 18:19 of the first period– yielding another 5-on-3 power play for Boston, albeit for 23 seconds.

It didn’t take long for the Bruins to strike, however, as Marchand setup Pastrnak (12) in his usual spot from the dot on the left side for a one-timed power-play goal– cutting into Washington’s lead, 2-1, at 18:34.

Marchand (20) and Grzelcyk (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

Less than a minute later, Marchand (15) received a pass from Grzelcyk and raced up the boards into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot that appeared to deflect off of Trevor van Riemsdyk’s stick and floated over Fucale’s shoulder on the far, blocker side, from the right dot.

Grzelcyk (9) and Pastrnak (14) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins tied it, 2-2, at 19:14 of the first period.

After one period, the B’s and Caps were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 11-10.

The Capitals also maintained an advantage in blocked shots (4-2), while Boston led in takeaways (3-0), giveaways (2-0), hits (10-9) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).

Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 2/4 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Anton Blidh fed Grzelcyk a lead pass from the neutral zone into the attacking zone before Grzelcyk (2) flung a shot from just past the blue line over Fucale’s glove side into the top corner of the net– giving the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2, in the process.

Blidh (4) had the only assist on Grzelcyk’s goal at 2:51 of the second period and the B’s never looked back as Grzelcyk earned his first career three-point night (that he would then extend into his first career five-point night).

Moments later, Bergeron made a save at the other end of the rink while blocking a shot driveway hockey style as Ullmark was down and out.

The Bruins surged in momentum and raced to their attacking zone whereby Lazar wrapped the puck around the net and slipped a pass through the slot to Craig Smith (4) for the one-timer goal.

Lazar (5) and Blidh (5) picked up the assists as Boston took a, 4-2, lead at 7:53 of the second period.

Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, then decided that four unanswered goals against was the perfect time to make a change in the crease– replacing Fucale with Vanecek.

It didn’t take Boston long to beat Vanecek as a warm welcome to the ice.

Taylor Hall and Pastrnak skated in on a 2-on-1 before Hall sent a pass over to Pastrnak (13) for a catch and release goal over Vanecek’s glove on the far side– top shelf– under the bar.

Hall (14) and Vaakanainen (2) notched the assists as Pastrnak recorded his second goal of the game and Boston’s fifth unanswered goal to take a, 5-2, lead at 8:54 of the second period.

Less than five minutes later, Haula (3) snapped a shot from about the faceoff circle over Vanecek’s glove– extending the Bruins’ lead to four goals at 13:09.

Hall (15) and Grzelcyk (10) were credited with the assists on Haula’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, past the midpoint of the night’s action.

Less than a minute later, Washington scored a fluke goal– ending Boston’s run of six unanswered goals, thanks to T.J. Oshie’s (5) deflection on a shot pass from Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin (28) and Kuznetsov (23) had the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals trailed, 6-3, at 14:06 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 6-3, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 22-21, in shots on goal. Both teams split shots on net in the second period alone, 11-11, however.

The Caps led in blocked shots (9-8), takeaways (7-4) and hits (24-18) after two periods, while Boston led in giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Washington was 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Prior to the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Frederic would not return to Monday night’s game with an upper body injury.

Not much happened in the final frame until the midpoint when Marchand (16) scored his second goal of the game after Smith’s initial shot rebounded to Marchand for a beautiful display of hand-eye coordination– batting the puck out of mid-air to his blade before slipping the rubber biscuit over Vanecek’s outstretched pad, but under the blocker.

Smith (7) and Grzelcyk (11) notched the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to four goals once more, 7-3, at 10:59 of the third period.

Marchand’s second goal of the game also marked the most goals in a game for Boston this season.

Late in the period, Hall tripped up Martin Fehervary, but the Capitals weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play at 18:55.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 7-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 31-30– including a, 10-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston exited Capital One Arena holding an advantage in giveaways (6-3) and faceoff win% (57-43), while Washington left their own ice leading in blocked shots (12-11) and hits (35-27).

The Caps finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 2/4.

The Bruins improved to 7-6-2 (3-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (2-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 14-1-0 (10-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington fell to 16-6-4 (9-2-2 at home) when scoring first, 7-4-3 (1-2-1 at home) when tied after one and 1-6-4 (0-3-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston returns home to host the Montréal Canadiens on Wednesday and begin a seven-game homestand. The Bruins will play host to the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks before hitting the road again in Colorado on Jan. 26th.

The B’s host Montréal and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights, Wednesday and Thursday before finishing the current week against the Predators on Saturday.

Wednesday night’s game against the Canadiens was originally scheduled to be at Bell Centre, but due to the rise of the Omicron variant and capacity limits across Canada, that game has been postponed and instead Boston’s meeting with the Habs originally scheduled for March 21st has been moved up.

Tickets for March 21st in Boston will be honored on Jan. 12th against Montréal.

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Bruins put out the Flames, 4-2, in Calgary

Charlie McAvoy scored the eventual game-winner on a string of three unanswered goals to open things up before the Boston Bruins held on for a, 4-2, victory over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Linus Ullmark (7-4-0, 2.56 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 11 games played) made 40 saves on 42 shots against in the win for the Bruins.

Flames netminder, Jacob Markström (10-6-5, 1.94 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 21 games played) turned aside 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 14-8-2 (30 points) overall and moved into 4th place in the Atlantic Division– one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in division standings and one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2nd wild card position in the Eastern Conference.

For the first time this season, the B’s are in playoff position.

Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 15-7-6 (36 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Pacific Division lead– one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.

The Bruins split their regular season series with the Flames 1-1-0 after losing, 4-0, on Nov. 21st at TD Garden and beating Calgary, 4-2, on Saturday night.

Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (lower body), Brandon Carlo (lower body) and Tomáš Nosek (non-COVID-19 related illness) among their skaters, while the team continued to be without their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, who remained in the United States for the duration of the Western Canada road trip in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.

Acting head coach, Joe Sacco, made one change among his forwards, replacing Karson Kuhlman on the fourth line with Curtis Lazar– a move that would pay dividends in the night’s action.

Kuhlman joined Jack Ahcan as Boston’s pair of healthy scratches in Calgary, while Oskar Steen had been reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday.

Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand apparently got just enough of a stick hooked around Matthew Tkachuk somehow– replay had shown that it was perhaps another Bruin that committed the infraction and Marchand was mistakenly put in the box, but nonetheless, the Flames went on the night’s first power play at 10:32.

Calgary couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage and, in fact, it was rather short lived as Sean Monahan slashed Lazar at 10:50 of the first period, yielding 4-on-4 action for a span of 1:42 prior to an abbreviated power play for Boston.

The Bruins couldn’t muster anything on their short power play, however.

Late in the period, Connor Clifton (1) pinched in from the point down where a right wing would normally skate and carried the puck into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot clean past Markström on the glove side.

Trent Frederic (2) and Anton Blidh (3) recorded the assists on Clifton’s goal as the B’s took a, 1-0, lead at 17:43 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Boston carried a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing Calgary, 15-7, in shots on goal.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (10-1), takeaways (3-2), hits (12-10) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while both teams managed to amass four giveaways each in the first frame.

The two clubs were also 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Matt Grzelcyk scored the game-winning goal late in Thursday night’s, 3-2, win in Edmonton, yet received the first penalty of the middle frame in Saturday night’s effort as he hooked Andrew Mangiapane at 1:55 of the second period.

Once again, though, the Flames came up empty on the power play.

Moments later, Boston used their surge in momentum from a successful penalty kill to translate their good fortune on the ice with a goal on the scoreboard.

Marchand passed the puck to David Pastrnak in the neutral zone as the two wingers pushed into the attacking zone, where Pastrnak spun and flung the puck towards the goal as Marchand crashed the net.

Marchand (11) tipped the rubber biscuit over Markström’s glove side and under the crossbar to extend Boston’s lead to, 2-0.

Pastrnak (13) and Patrice Bergeron (12) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal at 5:52 of the second period.

With the secondary assist, Bergeron (554) surpassed Phil Esposito (553) for sole possession of the fourth-most assists in Bruins franchise history.

By the end of the night, Bergeron would sit at 555 career assists in a Boston uniform– 69 assists behind the man in third place in franchise history, Bobby Orr, with 624.

At 36-years-old and in his 18th season, which also happens to be a contract year for Bergeron, there are no guarantees he’ll move up higher in the list, but for what it’s worth, Ray Bourque leads in all-time assists by a Bruin with 1,111, followed by John Bucyk with 794, then Orr (624) and Bergeron (555).

56 seconds after Marchand gave Boston a two-goal lead, McAvoy (4) extended it to three goals after waltzing into the high slot from the point while Bergeron worked a carom off the glass from the trapezoid off of Marchand’s stick back to the star Bruins defender.

Bergeron (13) and Marchand (16) tallied the assists as the B’s took a, 3-0, lead at 6:48– further solidifying the Boston captain in franchise history.

Moments later, Bldih slashed Oliver Kylington at 11:12 and presented the Flames with another power play opportunity.

This time Calgary didn’t let another skater advantage go by the wayside.

Rasmus Andersson sent a shot attempt towards the net that got knocked down before Tkachuk (12) scooped it up on the doorstep and shoveled the errant puck past Ullmark to put the Flames on the board.

Andersson (14) and Johnny Gaudreau (20) notched the assists on Tkachuk’s power-play goal and Calgary trailed, 3-1, at 12:19 of the second period.

At the very least, Tkachuk scored a goal on his 24th birthday, despite not much else going Calgary’s way for the night.

Late in the period, Marchand cut another rut to the sin bin for slashing Nikita Zadorov at 15:13.

The Flames weren’t able to make Boston’s penalty kill pay for Marchand’s sins as he was freed from the box and the period came to a close shortly thereafter.

Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed, 31-15, in shots on goal and were outshot 2:1 (16-8) by Calgary in the second period alone.

The Flames had also taken a lead in giveaways (8-7) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston continued to dominated blocked shots (16-4) and hits (18-17).

Both teams managed to have three takeaways each, while Calgary was 1/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1.

Early in the final frame, Frederic sent a backhand shot to the net that rebounded and bounced around amidst the chaos of bodies in the low slot and crease.

Eventually, Lazar (2) chipped away at it and scored from the front doorstep to make it, 4-1, in favor of the Bruins.

Frederic (3) and Grzelcyk (5) had the assists on the goal at 2:57 of the third period.

Taylor Hall tripped up Christopher Tanev minutes after Lazar’s goal to give the Flames their final power play of the night at 6:20 of the third period, but Calgary couldn’t score on the ensuing advantage.

Instead, Monahan delivered a swift cross check on Jake DeBrusk at 14:18 and was penalized as a result.

Shortly after emerging from the box unscathed, however, Monahan (4) redirected a shot pass from Milan Lucic with his skate blade behind Ullmark at 18:24.

Lucic (4) and Andersson (15) tallied the assists on the goal (which was completely legal, by the way, since you can deflect a puck with your skate as long as it’s not a distinct kicking motion or you’re in the process of coming to a stop) and the Flames trailed, 4-2.

With 1:12 remaining in the action, Calgary’s head coach, Darryl Sutter, pulled Markström for an extra attacker.

After a stoppage in play shortly thereafter, he used his only timeout to rally his skaters.

After Boston iced the puck a couple of times in the final minute, the Flames couldn’t string anything together to make things interesting.

The Bruins had won, 4-2, at the final horn and finished the night trailing Calgary in shots on goal, 42-27, despite a, 12-11, advantage in favor of the B’s in the third period alone.

Boston exited the building leading in blocked shots (21-7) and hits (26-22), while Calgary left Scotiabank Saddledome leading in giveaways (12-9) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Flames finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.

The B’s improved to 10-4-0 (6-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 11-0-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after one and 10-1-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 2-4-3 (0-2-3 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-3-3 (0-1-3 at home) when trailing after the first period and 0-4-1 (0-1-1 at home) when losing after two periods this season.

The Bruins return home after amassing five out of a possible six points (2-0-1) in their Western Canada road trip to host the Vegas Golden Knights next Tuesday (Dec. 14th) before hitting the road again for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders, Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.

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NHL Nick's Net

Ullmark makes 41 saves in, 3-2, win in Edmonton

Linus Ullmark recorded a season-high 41 saves, while Matt Grzelcyk scored his first goal of the season not a minute too soon in the dying minutes of the game to lift the Boston Bruins over the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, at Rogers Place on Thursday.

Ullmark (6-4-0, 2.61 goals-against average, .917 save percentage, in 10 games played) made 41 saves on 43 shots against in the win for Boston.

Edmonton goaltender, Stuart Skinner (2-5-0, 2.75 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in eight games played), turned aside 27 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 13-8-2 (28 points) overall and remain in command of 5th place in the Atlantic Division– one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for 4th in the division standings.

The Oilers fell to 16-9-0 (32 points) on the season and in 3rd place in the Pacific Division– three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for 2nd place and two points ahead of the 4th place Vegas Golden Knights.

Anton Blidh returned to the lineup after dealing with an upper body injury since Nov. 28th against the Vancouver Canucks, while John Moore and Karson Kuhlman were also re-inserted amongst some redone lines and defensive pairings as acting head coach, Joe Sacco, was forced to make adjustments.

With Brandon Carlo (lower body) out day-to-day, Moore took over Carlo’s role on the second pairing alongside Grzelcyk.

Meanwhile, Blidh and Kuhlman’s reintroduction to the lineup meant that Curtis Lazar and Oskar Steen joined Jack Ahcan as healthy scratches for the B’s in Edmonton.

Erik Haula centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk at left win and Nick Foligno on right wing, while Trent Frederic manned the fourth line center role– flanked by Blidh and Kuhlman on his wings.

Jakub Zboril (lower body) and Tomáš Nosek (non-COVID illness) remained out of the lineup due to injury and illness on Thursday, while Bruce Cassidy (COVID-19 protocol) remained at home outside Boston in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.

Leon Draisaitl kicked the night off with a tripping infraction after he brought down Moore at 3:50 of the first period, presenting Boston with the game’s first power play.

The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

In fact, Boston was stumped on a 5-on-3 advantage for a little more than 10 seconds after Zach Hyman hooked Patrice Bergeron and cut a rut to the penalty box at 5:37.

Almost midway through the first period, Edmonton got their first taste of a power play opportunity as Frederic hooked Connor McDavid at 8:26.

The Oilers couldn’t beat Boston’s penalty kill, however.

Things did not pan out in Edmonton’s favor on their subsequent power play when Foligno was assessed a roughing minor for retaliating against Hyman at 16:03.

Just eight seconds into the penalty kill, the Bruins struck first on the scoreboard as Bergeron forced a turnover in the neutral zone before sending Brad Marchand (10) into the attacking zone on a breakaway prior to elevating a backhand show over Skinner’s glove side to make it, 1-0.

Bergeron (11) had the only assist on Marchand’s 32nd career shorthanded goal at 16:15 of the first period and– as a result– tied Phil Esposito for the fourth-most assists in a Bruins uniform (553).

Ray Bourque (1,111 assists), John Bucyk (794) and Bobby Orr (624) round out the top-three in franchise assist leaders.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite trailing the Oilers, 13-9, in shots on goal.

Boston held an advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (7-5) and hits (13-7), while Edmonton led in faceoff win percentage (54-46) after one period.

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Draisaitl cross checked Marchand 10 seconds into the second period and presented the Bruins with an early power play in the middle period as a result.

Boston didn’t let this opportunity go to waste as Kailer Yamamoto turned the puck over to Taylor Hall, who then dished the rubber biscuit from the corner boards to DeBrusk (5) for a catch and release goal on the short side to put the Bruins up by two.

Hall (7) tallied the only assist on DeBrusk’s power-play goal as Boston pulled ahead, 2-0, at 2:02 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Markus Niemelainen caught Frederic with a high stick, which led to the two players becoming a bit entangled as Frederic thought he had been wronged beyond the eyes of the on-ice officials.

Niemelainen went to the box for high sticking, while Frederic picked up a roughing minor and the two penalties resulted in some 4-on-4 action at 13:31 of the second period.

Neither team could score with the extra room on the ice available at both ends.

Minutes later, though, Haula was penalized for holding at 16:55 and the Oilers went on the power play late in the period.

Edmonton took their time on the ensuing skater advantage, but the barrage of shots eventually led to the formation of a triangle in which the Oilers worked the puck from the point to the side back to the point before Tyson Barrie setup Draisaitl (22) for the one-timer goal on the short side– cutting Boston’s lead in half in the process.

The Oilers trailed, 2-1, thanks to Draisaitl’s power-play goal at 18:14 with assists from Barrie (11) and McDavid (28).

Heading into the second intermission, Edmonton extended their domination in total shots to a, 27-15, advantage– outshooting Boston, 14-6, in the second period alone.

Though the Bruins led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and dominated in blocked shots (12-7), giveaways (16-12), hits (19-11) and faceoff win% (54-47), if you take your foot off the gas against the Oilers’ power play, well… don’t be too surprised if Edmonton surges in momentum thereafter for a bit.

As it was, the Oilers led in takeaways, 5-2, heading into the final frame as both teams were 1/3 on the power play.

Bergeron hooked McDavid to give the Oilers a power play at 4:03 of the third period.

This time, however, Boston’s penalty kill stood tall against Edmonton’s skater advantage, but the B’s presented the Oilers with another chance on the power play at 8:58 when Charlie Coyle was assessed a holding infraction against Yamamoto.

It only took Edmonton about half the time on Coyle’s minor to convert on the power play as it did the first time that Draisaitl scored a power-play goal in the second period and, coincidentally, Draisaitl (23) had the Oilers’ second power-play goal as well.

McDavid fed Draisaitl a pass from the dot to the goal line for a one-timer goal on Ullmark’s short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

McDavid (29) and Barrie (12) had the assists on Draisaitl’s second goal of the game at 9:50 of the third period.

Late in the period, the Bruins had possession in the attacking zone where they worked the puck around from Hall to Craig Smith before finding Grzelcyk at his unnatural spot on the ice.

Grzelcyk (1), a left shot, blasted a shot from the right point off the far side post and into the back of the twine for his first goal of the season, as well as the eventual game-winner, as he gave Boston a, 3-2, lead at 17:27.

Smith (5) and Hall (8) tallied the assists on Grzelcyk’s late third period goal.

Minutes later, Oilers head coach, Dave Tippett, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about 1:55 remaining in the game, but it was to no avail as the Bruins held off Edmonton’s best skaters for the, 3-2, win at the final horn.

Boston finished the night trailing in shots on goal, 43-30, despite making things close in the third period– only trailing the Oilers, 16-15, in third period shots alone.

The Bruins left Rogers Place with the two-point victory in regulation as well as the lead in blocked shots (19-9), giveaways (20-15), hits (23-17) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Edmonton had the most success on the power play, however, having gone 2/5 on the night to Boston’s 1/3 conversion rate on the skater advantage.

In the end, though, the final score was all that mattered as the Bruins won, 3-2, and improved to 9-4-0 (5-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 10-0-0 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 9-1-0 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

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

Boston visits the Calgary Flames on Saturday night to wrap up their Western Canada road trip (1-0-1) before returning home to host the Golden Knights on Dec. 14th at TD Garden.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Colorado Avalanche 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 39-13-4, 82 points

1st in the Honda NHL West Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by Vegas

Additions: F Darren Helm, F Mikhail Maltsev (acquired from NJD), F Dylan Sikura, D Jordan Gross, D Jack Johnson (signed to a PTO), D Kurtis MacDermid (acquired from SEA), D Stefan Matteau, D Roland McKeown, D Ryan Murray, G Darcy Kuemper (acquired from ARI)

Subtractions: F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (signed with TBL), F Matt Calvert (retired), F Joonas Donskoi (expansion, SEA), F Sheldon Dries (signed with VAN), F Ty Lewis (retired), F Liam O’Brien (signed with Tucson Roadrunners, AHL), F Brandon Saad (signed with STL), F Miikka Salomäki (SHL), F Carl Söderberg (SHL), F Mike Vecchione (signed with WSH), D Kyle Burroughs (signed with VAN), D Ryan Graves (traded to NJD), D Patrik Nemeth (signed with NYR), D Dan Renouf (signed with DET), D Conor Timmins (traded to ARI), G Philipp Grubauer (signed with SEA), G Peyton Jones (signed with Colorado Eagles, AHL), G Adam Werner (signed with CGY)

Still Unsigned: F Travis Barron, G Devan Dubnyk

Re-signed: F Tyson Jost, F Gabriel Landeskog, F Jayson Megna, F Kiefer Sherwood, D Dennis Gilbert, D Cale Makar, G Jonas Johansson

Offseason Analysis: If next spring doesn’t bring the desired results to Colorado, it’ll be 20 years since the Avalanche last made an appearance in the Western Conference Final.

Back in 2002, the Detroit Red Wings were in the prime of their dominance and the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry was red hot as the two teams went at it for not only regular season titles, but Stanley Cup rings as well.

Colorado had won in 1996 and 2001, Detroit won in 1997, 1998 and would do so again in 2002, as well as 2008– five years after Patrick Roy played his last National Hockey League game.

In the 2002 Western Conference Final, the defending Stanley Cup champion Avs were once again the team to beat, but the Red Wings took the series in seven games and went on to win the Cup.

Since then, both teams have had a bit of a falling out.

When Joe Sakic took over as General Manager of the Avalanche, the goal was simple– return the franchise to its glory days.

The bump in the road that was the 2016-17 season brought the team the 4th overall pick after losing in the draft lottery, yet at 4th overall in 2017, Colorado selected their biggest game-changing defender since the acquisition of Ray Bourque in Cale Makar.

Sakic turned his attention to a Makar extension when it seemed like things had gone south with keeping captain, Gabriel Landeskog, in town.

The 22-year-old defender signed a six-year extension worth $9.000 million per season after finishing second in Norris Trophy voting to New York Rangers defender, Adam Fox, for the 2020-21 season.

Makar had 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 44 games– exactly a point-a-game in his sophomore campaign, limited again due to injury after amassing 12-38–50 totals in 57 games in his first NHL season in 2019-20.

Sakic signed Makar to an extension on July 24th and then in the 11th hour as free agency drew near, signed Landeskog to an eight-year extension worth $7.000 million per season.

The 28-year-old captain was Colorado’s 2011 1st round pick (2nd overall) and has 218-294–512 totals in 687 games since making his league debut in the 2011-12 season with the Avs.

Landeskog had a promising 52-point season (22 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games in his first year in the league, then the 2012-13 48-game lockout shortened season kept him to 9-8–17 totals in 36 games.

The Avalanche missed out on the playoffs from 2011-13, but in 2014, Colorado squared off against the Minnesota Wild in the First Round– only to lose in seven games.

That playoff series, however, was the first taste of playoff hockey for Nathan MacKinnon and went decently for Landeskog as well.

After amassing 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 81 games in the regular season, Landeskog had 3-1–4 totals in the seven-game series against the Wild.

Then his production dropped to 59 points in 82 games in 2014-15, and 53 points in 75 games in 2015-16– coinciding with Colorado’s fall from grace.

In the dismal 2016-17 campaign for the Avalanche, in which the team amassed 48 points on the season with a 22-56-4 record, Landeskog had just 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) and had a minus-25 rating.

But the Avs have made the playoffs every season since then– succumbing to the Nashville Predators in six games in the 2018 First Round, bowing out to the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the 2019 Second Round, losing to the Dallas Stars in seven games in the 2020 Second Round and dropping out in six games against the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2021 Second Round.

In that span, Landeskog’s had a career resurgence. He had 62 points in 78 games in 2017-18, 75 points in 73 games in 2018-19, 44 points in 54 games while battling injury and the COVID-19 pandemic shortened regular season in 2019-20, as well as 52 points in 54 games in last season’s 56-game regular season schedule.

Some say his resurgence can be accredited to the emergence of Colorado’s dominant first line with MacKinnon at center, Landeskog at left wing and Mikko Rantanen at right wing, but then how can that attribute to his own individual playoff success?

Landeskog had seven points (four goals, three assists) in six postseason games in 2018, 3-5–8 totals in Colorado’s 12-game 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff experience, 2-11–13 totals in 14 games during their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff bubble run and 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in ten games in the Avalanche’s 2021 postseason run.

It’s plain to see that whereas MacKinnon is the superstar forward, Landeskog is the lifeblood of the organization– both as the captain and as a clutch performer when it matters most.

Landeskog’s reasonable cap hit should take some pressure off of Sakic as he negotiates extensions with MacKinnon after the 2022-23 season and Rantanen after the 2024-25 season, when the salary cap ceiling is expected to have risen due to the increased revenue from the current U.S. broadcasting rights packages.

Two big pieces were taken care of, so naturally Sakic set his sights on Philipp Grubauer… …who chose to leave for the Seattle Kraken in free agency.

Grubauer signed a six-year contract worth $5.900 million per season with the Kraken on July 28th– the day that free agency began and a week after Seattle claimed Joonas Donskoi from the Avs in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Last season, Grubauer went 30-9-1 in 40 games played, had seven shutouts (tied for the most with New York Islanders goaltender, Semyon Varlamov) and amassed a 1.95 goals-against average, as well as a .922 save percentage in that span.

It was a breakout year for the 29-year-old goaltender, so why not cash in while you can?

The downside for Colorado, however, is that it left them briefly with uncertainty in the crease until they acquired Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes later that same day.

Sakic worked the phones quite a bit this summer between agents and fellow general managers.

On July 15th, Colorado swapped defender, Ryan Graves, with the New Jersey Devils for forward, Mikhail Maltsev, and a 2021 2nd round pick (from NYI via NJD- 61st overall, Sean Behrens).

On July 27th, Sakic sent a 2023 4th round pick to the Kraken for defender, Kurtis MacDermid, whose father, Paul, played for the Québec Nordiques from 1993-95.f

After losing Grubauer to Seattle in free agency, Sakic dealt defender, Conor Timmins, a 2022 1st round pick and a conditional 2024 3rd round pick to the Coyotes for Kuemper.

Much like Linus Ullmark going from the Buffalo Sabres to the Boston Bruins via free agency this summer, it’s hard to tell what to expect out of Kuemper in an Avalanche uniform.

He should be better considering the overall quality and depth of defenders on Colorado’s blue line a la Ullmark’s upgrade from Buffalo’s defense to Boston’s defense in front of him.

That said, Kuemper hasn’t really been a starting goaltender for long. It’s a risk, like when Colorado sought after Grubauer in the first place from the Washington Capitals a few summers ago.

In his first season as a starter, Kuemper went 27-20-8 in 55 games with Arizona– notching five shutouts and recording a 2.33 goals-against average, as well as a .925 save percentage. Good stuff.

In 2019-20, he went 16-11-2 in 29 games, had two shutouts and yielded a 2.22 goals-against average, as well as a .928 save percentage.

Last season, he went 10-11-3 in 27 games, dropping to a 2.56 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and once again recording two shutouts.

Kuemper is 31-years-old and made his league debut with the Minnesota Wild back in the 2012-13 season– the same season that Grubauer broke into the league with the Capitals, albeit two years younger in age.

How will a full 82-game schedule as the starting netminder with Pavel Francouz returning from an injury that prevented him from being the backup in Colorado last season impact Kuemper’s performance in the crease?

There’s kind of a lot at stake here. No pressure or anything, but the Avalanche are trying to win the Cup now rather than later.

Speaking of “win-now” mode, the loss of Donskoi, Brandon Saad and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare puts Colorado in a difficult spot.

They don’t have the dominant bottom-six players on paper that they had last season that made them as much of a threat as the Golden Knights or Tampa Bay Lightning.

Instead, they’ll be relying on the emergence of youth in Alex Newhook, Logan O’Connor and Maltsev mixed with a combination of young players getting better in Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher, as well as a veteran in Darren Helm.

Much like how Saad brought in Cup winning experience to the dressing room last season, however, Helm is doing so for the Avs this season as he happened to be on the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Red Wings– appearing in seven games in the 2007-08 regular season, then 18 postseason games for Detroit in their 2008 Cup run.

It was Helm’s first taste of NHL action and he already was on top of the mountain. Now 34, he’s looking for more.

Offseason Grade: B-

Sakic has a way of taking reclamation projects and maximizing their production in Colorado, though we’ll see if the same effect can be applied to Stefan Matteau and Ryan Murray on the blue line, as well as other moves already mentioned.

The Avalanche have depth, but do they have enough depth?

Despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season, Colorado finished the 2020-21 regular season with 39 wins– one shy of Vegas (40 wins) for the most in the league– and eliminated in the Second Round by that same Golden Knights team (the Avs won the tiebreaker with 35 regulation wins to Vegas’ 30).

That said most of the Avalanche roster remains the same and there’s the feeling that one of these year’s they’ll get over the hump and back into the later end of the postseason.

Super teams don’t always win, but having a (super) consistent performance down the stretch and in the playoffs does and that’s what the Lightning have done best for the last two years– turning it on when it counts and sustaining the pressure.

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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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Bergeron’s hat trick in Swayman’s 40-save NHL debut lead Bruins over Flyers, 4-2

Jeremy Swayman (1-0-0, 2.01 goals-against average, .952 save percentage in one game played) made 40 saves on 42 shots against in his National Hockey League debut, while Patrice Bergeron surpassed 900 career points with a hat trick in a, 4-2, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

Swayman went 8-1-0 in nine games played for the Providence Bruins (AHL) this season with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in that span prior to being called up on Monday due to Boston’s starting and backup goaltenders being out of the lineup.

He made his NHL debut nine games after Dan Vladar made his NHL debut in net for Boston in a, 2-1, win at Pittsburgh on March 16th.

The last time the Bruins had two rookie goaltenders play at least one game was in 2016-17, when Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre suited up in one and eight games, respectively, that season.

The last two Bruins goalies to make their NHL debut in the same season was back in 2005-06, when Hannu Toivonen and Jordan Sigalet did just that.

Bergeron, in the meantime, became the fourth Bruin in franchise history to record at least 900 points with the club, joining Ray Bourque (1,506 points with Boston), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012) as the only players to do so in the spoked-B.

Philadelphia goaltender, Carter Hart (8-10-4, 3.88 goals-against average, .871 save percentage in 24 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced for an .880 save percentage in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 20-10-6 (46 points) overall and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual East Division, while separating themselves a bit from the now 18-15-5 Flyers (41 points) who remain 5th in the division.

Boston also improved to 6-0-1 against Philadelphia this season.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Kevan Miller returned after missing his 20th game this season due to a nagging lower body injury that he re-aggravated on Feb. 18th against the New Jersey Devils.

With Miller back and McAvoy out of the lineup as a late scratch due to injury, B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, jumbled his lineup a bit.

Karson Kuhlman moved up to the right side of the third line, while Chris Wagner rejoined the lineup in his usual role as the fourth line right wing as Zach Senyshyn served as a healthy scratch.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk suited up alongside Miller on the first pairing, while Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton rounded out the top-four.

Jakub Zboril was partnered with Steven Kampfer on the third defensive pairing.

With Rask and Halak out, Vladar served as Swayman’s backup goaltender, while Anders Bjork, Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, McAvoy, Anton Blidh and Jarred Tinordi made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Bergeron (13) corralled a rebound and wrapped the puck around Hart’s outstretched leg to give the Bruins the game’s first goal.

Craig Smith (11) and Brad Marchand (25) tallied the assists and the B’s led, 1-0, at 7:09 of the first period.

With his first goal of the night, Bergeron reached the 900-point plateau in his career. By the end of the night, he had 367-535–902 totals in 1,125 career games (all with Boston).

Midway through the first period, Grzelcyk was penalized for hooking James van Riemsdyk, but Philly wasn’t able to muster anything on their first power play of the night at 10:15.

Moments later, the Bruins went on the power play after Nicolas Aube-Kubel was called for holding against David Krejci at 16:38.

The Bruins made quick work of their first skater advantage of the game, working the puck around the zone from Marchand to David Pastrnak to Bergeron (14) for one of his standard catch and release power-play goals from the bumper– giving Boston a two-goal lead in the process.

Pastrnak (16) and Marchand (26) had the assists on Bergeron’s second goal of the night at 17:31 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Philadelphia, 13-11, in shots on goal.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (7-5) and hits (11-7), while Philly led in takeaways (2-0), giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period of play.

The Flyers were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Jakub Voracek (6) redirected a shot pass from Travis Konecny past Swayman from the edge of the crease to cut Boston’s lead in half and put Philadelphia on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Konecny (17) had the only assist in the goal at 1:33 of the second period.

Philly tied things up, 2-2, with a pair of goals in a span of 2:30 thanks to Shayne Gostisbehere’s (6) catch and release shot over Swayman at 4:03.

Voracek (25) and Ivan Provorov (15) tallied the assists on Gostisbehere’s goal.

Midway through the middle frame, Trent Frederic cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing at 11:14, but the Flyers weren’t able to take advantage of the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday night, the Bruins and Flyers were tied, 2-2, despite Philadelphia outshooting Boston, 38-18, in shots on goal, including a, 25-7, advantage in the second period alone.

Philly also held the advantage in giveaways (9-5) and faceoff win% (57-44), while the B’s led in hits (17-15) after two periods.

Both teams had 14 blocked shots and four takeaways each, while Philadelphia was 0/2 and Boston was 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Miller tripped Nolan Patrick at 7:25 of the third period and presented the Flyers with another power play.

This time, however, Boston’s penalty kill turned the tables on Philadelphia when Lauzon sprung out of his own zone with the puck, generated a 2-on-1 in the attacking zone and sent a pass to Marchand (18) for the extra drag before sliding the puck through Hart’s five-hole.

It was the sixth shorthanded goal for the Bruins this season and the 29th of Marchand’s career, while Lauzon (4) and Clifton (5) tabbed the assists as Boston pulled ahead, 3-2, at 8:21.

It was also Marchand’s 48th career shorthanded point, which broke a tie with Eddie Westfall and Bobby Orr for the most in Bruins history.

About a minute later, Konecny slashed Miller, who delivered a swift cross check in return and the two players drew minor infractions at 9:59.

The two teams skated 4-on-4 for two minutes before returning to regular even strength action.

Moments later, Samuel Morin roughed Frederic along the wall and was sent to the sin bin at 13:12, but Boston’s power play unit was unable to convert on the skater advanatage.

With 1:57 remaining in the game, Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, pulled Hart for an extra attacker and used his only timeout to draw up a strategy for Philadelphia to tie the game once more.

Instead, Bergeron (15) scored an empty net goal– completing the hat trick with his third goal of the game in the process.

Marchand (27) and Wagner (3) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead, 4-2, at 19:37 on Bergeron’s sixth career hat trick and first since a, 7-4, victory at the New York Rangers on Oct. 27, 2019.

Bergeron tied Adam Oates, Herb Cain, Dit Clapper, Wayne Cashman and Barry Pederson for the ninth most hat tricks while in a Bruins uniform in franchise history.

At the final horn, Swayman made the most saves (40) by a B’s netminder in his first start since Bernie Parent had 44 saves in his NHL debut with Boston in 1965, as he and the Bruins downed the Flyers, 4-2.

Boston finished the night with the advantage in blocked shots (19-16) and hits (31-19), though they trailed Philadelphia in shots on goal (42-26), giveaways (11-8) and faceoff win% (57-44).

The Flyers finished Tuesday’s action 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2.

Boston improved to 13-3-3 (7-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, as well as 10-0-2 (5-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 5-4-3 (5-3-2 on the road) when tied after two periods in 2020-21.

Philadelphia, in the meantime, fell to 6-11-2 (2-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, 8-2-1 (5-2-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 6-3-2 (2-2-2 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins continue their three-game road trip (1-0-0) with a stop in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals on Thursday prior to returning to Philadelphia for a matchup with the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. Boston returns home next Sunday to host the Capitals to kick off a five-game homestand on April 11th.

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Sanheim, Flyers, down Bruins, 3-2, in OT

Travis Sanheim scored the game winning goal in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins for the first time this season, 3-2, on Monday night at TD Garden.

Brian Elliott (10-5-1, 2.92 goals-against average, .890 save percentage in 20 games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots faced in the win for Philadelphia.

Boston goaltender, Dan Vladar (3-1-0, 2.25 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in four games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the overtime loss.

The B’s fell to 19-10-6 (44 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Philly improved to 18-14-5 (41 points)– stuck in 5th in the same division.

The Bruins are now 5-0-1 against the Flyers this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Monday.

Halak was placed in the league’s COVID protocol due to a positive test as revealed by Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, in a media Zoom prior to Monday night’s game against the Flyers.

Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk returned to the lineup for the first time since he was placed in COVID protocol on March 19th after Boston’s, 4-1, win in Buffalo on March 18th.

He told reporters via Zoom ahead of Monday night’s action that he had some symptoms, but “nothing too major” in addition to losing his taste and smell.

Cassidy made a few adjustments to his bottom-six forwards and defense, slotting DeBrusk in on the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Zach Senyshyn at right wing, while Sean Kuraly centered the fourth line, flanked by Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Matt Grzelcyk remained paired with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Jakub Zboril suited up with Steven Kampfer and Jeremy Lauzon was partnered with Connor Clifton on the blue line.

Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Anton Blidh, Jarred Tinordi and Miller made up Boston’s list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and players that were already out due to injury against Philadelphia on Monday.

Earlier that day, Jeremy Swayman was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL), while Jack Studnicka and Callum Booth were reassigned to Providence.

Swayman suited up as Vladar’s backup goaltender Monday night while Rask and Halak were both unavailable.

Midway through the opening frame, Travis Konecny (8) was in the right place at the right time while crashing the net to pound on a loose puck that had been deflected, taken a few wacky bounces and rebounded to Konecny for the game’s first goal.

Claude Giroux (19) and Ivan Provorov (13) tallied the assists on Konecny’s goal and the Flyers led, 1-0, at 10:15 of the first period.

Late in the first period, Zboril and Coyle forced a turnover in the attacking zone, whereby No. 13 in black and gold sent a quick pass across the high slot to Kuhlman (2) for the wrist shot over Elliott’s glove– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Coyle (6) had the only assist on Kuhlman’s goal at 17:33.

About a couple of minutes later, Shayne Gostisbehere tripped up McAvoy and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 19:18.

Boston’s power play would spill over into the middle frame as the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage as the horn sounded for the first intermission.

Though the score was tied, 1-1, the Flyers led in shots on goal, 10-7, after one period of play.

Philadelphia also led in blocked shots (4-2), while Boston led in giveaways (4-2), hits (13-7) and faceoff win percentage (53-47). Both teams had one takeaway each after 20 minutes.

The B’s were 0/1 on the power play, while the Flyers had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the second period.

Patrice Bergeron (12) redirected a shot pass past Elliott from the slot to give Boston their first lead of the night, 2-1, with a power-play goal 46 seconds into the second period.

David Pastrnak (15) and Grzelcyk (10) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal, which helped the Bruins captain surpass Rick Middleton for the fourth most points in franchise history.

Bergeron has 364-535–899 totals in 1,124 career games (all with Boston), while Middleton had 402-496–898 totals with Boston from 1976-88. No. 37 in black in gold is now one point away from his 900th career point and would be the fourth Bruin in franchise history to reach at least 900 points with the club.

Phil Esposito (1,012 points) sits third in Boston’s all time scoring list with the club ahead of Bergeron, while Ray Bourque (1,506) and Johnny Bucyk (1,339) rank first and second overall, respectively.

Less than two minutes later, Lauzon was penalized for holding and cut a rut to the sin bin at 2:44, but Philly’s resulting power play was powerless despite Nolan Patrick’s efforts at drawing a penalty.

The Flyers got another chance on the skater advantage when Pastrnak hooked Nicolas Aube-Kubel at 5:46 of the second period.

Once again, however, Philadelphia failed to capitalize on the power play.

Midway through the middle frame, Justin Braun hooked Coyle and presented the B’s with another power play at 13:20, but Boston was not successful on their second skater advantage of the night.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 23-18, in shots on goal, including, 13-11, in the second period alone.

Philadelphia held the advantage in blocked shots (7-6), while Boston led in takeaways (4-1), giveaways (7-3), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (57-43).

The Flyers were 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Lauzon was sent to the penalty box with a holding minor at 5:21 of the third period and the Flyers went to work on the power play.

About a minute later, Sean Couturier (11) tied the game on a shot from the faceoff dot that snuck through net front traffic and found its way over Vladar’s glove into the twine.

Provorov (14) and Kevin Hayes (14) tallied the assists on Couturier’s power-play goal as Philadelphia evened things up, 2-2, at 6:56.

At the horn, the Bruins and Flyers were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard and, 28-28, in shots on goal, despite Boston outshooting Philadelphia, 10-5, in the third period alone.

Heading into overtime, the Bruins led in blocked shots (11-9), giveaways (8-7), hits (30-25) and faceoff win% (55-45), while both teams had five takeaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in the extra frame, Philly finished 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston went 1/2 on the power play on Monday.

Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, started Couturier, Konecny and Provorov in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Brad Marchand and McAvoy.

After a few quick line changes and end-to-end action, Sanheim blocked a shot from the point and scooped up the loose puck– generating speed and breaking past Bergeron while the B’s captain cut a rut in the ice and fell.

Sanheim (2) walked in all alone and scored on an unassisted effort, giving Philadelphia the, 3-2, victory at 3:08 of the overtime period.

At the final horn, the Flyers had won and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 32-29, including a, 4-1, advantage in overtime alone, despite trailing Boston in blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (8-7), hits (30-26) and faceoff win% (56-44).

The Bruins fell to 3-4 in overtime this season (6-6 past regulation), while the Flyers improved to 5-2 in overtime and 6-7 overall after 60 minutes.

Boston also dropped to 7-7-3 (4-5-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21, while Philadelphia improved to 12-4-3 (6-2-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

The B’s are now 5-4-2 (2-3-2 at home) when tied after the first period and 11-0-2 (7-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Philly, in the meantime, is now 5-3-2 (4-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period and 4-12-1 (3-6-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins wrapped up their seven-game homestand (3-2-2) and will begin a three-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday before swinging through Washington, D.C. on Thursday and Philadelphia again on Saturday. Boston returns home next Sunday to host the Capitals to kick off a five-game homestand on April 11th.

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Islanders down Bruins, 2-1, in shootout

For the fourth time this season the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but for the first time this season it was in a shootout.

David Pastrnak opened the game’s scoring in the first period and Brock Nelson tied things up in the second period before the Isles beat the Bruins, 2-1, in a shootout.

Semyon Varlamov (12-4-3, 2.03 goals against average, .929 save percentage in 19 games played) made 32 saves on 33 shots faced for a .970 SV% in the shootout win for New York.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (5-2-2, 2.08 GAA, .919 SV% in nine games played) stopped 26 out of 27 shots against (.963 SV%) in the shootout loss.

The B’s fell to 13-6-4 (30 points) and dropped to 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders improved to 16-6-4 (36 points) and remained in command of the division lead.

New York head coach, Barry Trotz, managed his 1,700th career regular season game from behind the bench on Tuesday.

He served as the head coach for the Nashville Predators in 1,196 games from 1998-2014 before leading the Washington Capitals in 328 from 2014-18– winning the Stanley Cup in 2018– and joining the Islanders that summer, where he has been from 2018-present in 176 games and counting.

The Bruins were once again without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Tuesday night as Tuukka Rask was also unavailable and did not make the trip to Long Island with the team.

Rask re-aggravated a lower body injury from earlier in the season in Sunday’s, 1-0, loss against the New Jersey Devils and was scheduled to have Tuesday night off anyway, so he didn’t travel with the club for their one-game excursion on the road before returning home on Thursday.

Instead, Dan Vladar served as Halak’s backup in New York.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated that Rask’s absence was only “a little maintenance for him” and told reporters that “[h]e’s feeling better, but we just felt why mix in a couple of plane rides when not necessary?” before Tuesday night’s game.

Cassidy left his defensive pairings alone and made two changes among his forward lines against the Islanders, scratching Jake DeBrusk and replacing him with Jack Studnicka on the right side of the second line while re-inserting Sean Kuraly at center on the fourth line.

Carlo, John Moore, Kase, Rask, Lauzon, DeBrusk, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth were all out of the lineup due to injury, being a healthy scratch or being a member of the taxi squad.

Late in the opening frame, Anders Lee tripped Charlie Coyle and yielded the game’s first power play to Boston at 18:49 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Pastrnak (11) blasted a one-timer low past Varlamov’s right pad to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead.

Brad Marchand (16) and Matt Grzelcyk (5) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal at 19:32 as the B’s brought their longest power play drought since Feb. 2018, to an end.

The goal also marked the 400th career point for Pastrnak, becoming the fourth-fastest Bruin in franchise history to reach 400 points with the club in 406 games.

Bobby Orr amassed 400 points as a Bruin in 333 games, while Barry Pederson did so in 335 games and Ray Bourque completed the feat in 391 games.

After one period of play at Nassau Coliseum, Boston led New York, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 12-8, in shots on goal.

The Bruins also held the advantage in giveaways (5-1), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while both teams had five blocked shots and two takeaways each entering the first intermission.

The Islanders had yet to see any action on the power play while the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Coyle tripped Mathew Barzal and was assessed a minor infraction at 2:51 of the second period.

New York did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Almost midway through the period, Oliver Wahlstrom checked Jarred Tinordi behind Boston’s net and was charged with a boarding minor at 9:16.

The B’s did not score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Wahlstrom caught Connor Clifton in a vulnerable position and was assessed another boarding infraction, though not before Marchand jumped on top of Wahlstrom in defense of his teammate without seeing that Clifton had, perhaps, lost an edge leading to his fall before Wahlstrom completed his check.

Regardless, Marchand earned two roughing minors and presented the Isles with a power play at 14:32 of the second period.

Craig Smith served Marchand’s minor while Boston was on the penalty kill.

Almost two minutes later, Nelson (10) buried a one-timer on a “tic-toc-goal” from Barzal to Jean-Gabriel Pageau to Nelson to tie the game, 1-1, at 16:18 of the second period.

Pageau (8) and Barzal (14) tabbed the assists on the goal.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins and Islanders were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 24-16, after two periods of play– including a, 12-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Isles led in blocked shots (11-10) and takeaways (4-2), while the B’s held the advantage in giveaways (9-6) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams had 15 hits aside and were 1/2 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no penalties and no goals scored in the third period as the two clubs swapped chances, resulting in a, 1-1, score after regulation– necessitating overtime.

The Bruins led in shots on goal, 28-25, after 60 minutes, despite being outshot, 9-4, by the Islanders in the third period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (17-16), giveaways (13-8), hits (28-26) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York led in takeaways (6-3) after three periods.

As there were no more penalties called in the game, the two teams finished 1/2 on the power play.

Trotz trotted out Nelson, Nick Leddy and Anthony Beauvillier to start overtime, while Cassidy countered with Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.

Neither team could score after five-minutes of blistering fury at 3-on-3.

After the extra frame, the Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 33-27, including a, 5-2, advantage in the overtime period alone.

Boston wrapped up Tuesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-16), giveaways (13-10), hits (29-27) and faceoff win% (54-47) as the two teams entered the shootout tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Jordan Eberle used his quick hands to deke and shoot over Halak’s glove side, giving New York a, 1-0 advantage before Pastrnak responded with a shot over Varlamov’s glove that hit the back of the twine, tying the shootout, 1-1, after one round.

Barzal’s attempt was denied by Halak with a blocker save after the Islanders forward tried to replicate Eberle’s attempt up high– only on the other side.

Coyle countered with an attempt at beating Varlamov’s five-hole, but the Isles goaltender stopped the shot.

In the third round of the shootout, Beauvillier put the Islanders ahead after he pulled a deke that left Halak attempting a split while Beauvillier roofed the puck top-shelf on a backhand shot.

All Varlamov had to do was stop Marchand’s attempt and New York would win.

He did just that as Marchand went five-hole, but the Islanders goaltender stood tall and turned the shot aside.

New York took home the, 2-1, victory in both the shootout and final score as Boston fell to 0-3-1 against the Islanders this season.

The Isles improved to 1-1 in shootouts this season and 1-4 past regulation overall, while the B’s fell to 2-2 in shootouts and 5-4 overall past 60 minutes.

Boston fell to 9-2-2 (4-2-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while New York improved to 5-5-2 (5-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The Bruins also fell to 7-0-1 (3-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 3-4-3 (3-3-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season, while the Islanders improved to 3-3-2 (3-0-0 at home) when trailing after one and 8-2-2 (6-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods in 2020-21.

Boston returns home to finish this week off with a two-game homestand against New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday.

The B’s begin a four-game road trip next week with a pair of games in Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand’s OT goal lifts Bruins over Rangers, 3-2

Brad Marchand did what he does best in overtime– scored the game-winning goal– on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 2.31 goals against average, .906 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the overtime win.

Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-2, 3.21 GAA, .891 SV% in five games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against (.906 SV%) in the overtime loss for New York.

The Bruins improved to 9-1-2 (20 points) on the season and continue to lead the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the New York Rangers fell to 4-5-3 (11 points), but surpassed the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils for 6th place in the division.

Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) returned to the lineup since being injured on Jan. 28th and Jan. 26th, respectively.

Grzeclyk returned to his usual role on the left side of the second defensive pairing, while DeBrusk was placed on the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.

Anton Blidh was scratched in favor of Trent Frederic on the fourth line left wing.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase (upper body) remained out of the lineup for the 10th time this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup.

Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Connor Clifton, Callum Booth, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were all healthy scratches and/or members of the taxi squad on Wednesday.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, Brendan Lemieux won a battle along the boards before working the puck off of Bruins forward, Sean Kuraly’s, stick and into the slot where Julien Gauthier (1) reached out to pocket the puck into the twine for his first career National Hockey League goal.

Lemieux (2) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers led, 1-0, at 13:50 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Chris Kreider tripped up Jeremy Lauzon and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:47.

The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

After one period of play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite splitting shots on goal evenly at, 6-6.

The Rangers held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while the Bruins had the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (60-40) after 20 minutes.

Both teams had four blocked shots each and four giveaways aside while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play (0/1) entering the first intermission.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Craig Smith slashed Ryan Strome and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding a power play to New York at 8:05 of the second period.

While on the penalty kill, Chris Wagner (2) emerged on a breakaway for Boston and sent the puck under Georgiev’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, at 9:41.

Wagner’s shorthanded goal was unassisted.

Moments later, Strome slashed Bjork and cut a rut to the penalty box at 13:30 as a result.

Boston’s power play was once again powerless, however, as the Rangers killed Strome’s minor with ease– often spending time on the penalty kill in the attacking zone.

After 40 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 25-20, including a, 19-14, advantage in the second period alone, while also leading in faceoff win% (67-33) after two periods.

New York led in blocked shots (11-5), giveaways (11-9) and hits (16-13), while both teams had five takeaways each entering the second intermission.

The Rangers were 0/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk thought he scored early in the third period when he rang the crossbar on a shot that bounced at the goal line, but the rubber biscuit just didn’t cross over the goal line completely– bouncing at an angle out of the crease and resulting in a “no goal” call (even after review).

Moments later, Bjork worked the puck to DeBrusk in the trapezoid who promptly sent it back to Bjork (1) for the goal from point blank while crashing the low slot to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Bjork’s goal was assisted by DeBrusk (2) and Kevan Miller (2) at 9:00 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Wagner and Anthony Bitetto exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors to go with a high sticking minor and a roughing infraction, respectively at 9:17.

It was the fourth fight this season for Boston and the first since Clifton fought Nicolas Aube-Kubel on Feb. 5th in Philadelphia.

A couple of minutes later, Ryan Lindgren let go of a shot from the point that Lemieux possibly tipped with a high stick, but deflected the rubber biscuit off of Grzelcyk before bouncing off of Rask and landing in the crease.

Kevin Rooney (3) was in the right place at the right time to pocket the puck into the twine and tie the game, 2-2.

Lemieux (2) and Lindgren (3) notched the assists as New York evened things up at 11:22 of the third period, despite a review that confirmed the call on the ice (goal).

Less than a couple minutes later, David Krejci tripped Lemieux and was assessed a minor penalty at 13:02, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play.

As time winded down in the third period, Rask took an excursion towards the bench mistakenly believing the score to be, 2-1, in favor of the Rangers.

After Charlie McAvoy and the rest of the Bruins bench alerted their netminder that the game was actually tied, Rask returned to his crease unscathed and with a good laugh at the next stoppage of play.

With the score tied, 2-2, after regulation, the two clubs required overtime (at least) to determine a winner, despite New York holding an advantage in shots on goal, 35-31, after 60 minutes of action– including a, 15-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Rangers also held the advantage in blocked shots (17-9), giveaways (15-14) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (68-32).

As no penalties were called in the overtime period, both sides finished 0/2 on the power play Wednesday night.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy in the overtime period, while New York head coach, David Quinn, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox.

Marchand had a chance early in the overtime period to end it, but the puck just wouldn’t settle the right way as the veteran Bruin forward was tripped and instead presented a chance for the Rangers to score at the opposite end.

After Boston broke up New York’s play, Bergeron worked the puck to McAvoy who then fed Marchand with a lead pass to set Marchand (8) on a breakaway whereby No. 63 in black and gold deked and sent a shot off the left post and in behind Georgiev to win the game, 3-2.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (10) notched the assists on Marchand’s game-winning overtime goal 36 seconds into the extra frame as the Bruins sealed the deal on the victory.

At the final horn Boston had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night behind in shots on goal, 35-32, to the Rangers (the Bruins had a, 1-0, shot advantage in overtime alone, however).

New York wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-9) and hits (29-21), while the B’s finished the night leading in faceoff win% (69-31).

Both teams had 15 hits aside as the Bruins improved to 3-2 in overtime (5-2 past regulation) this season.

The Rangers, on the other hand, fell to 1-2 in overtime alone (1-3 past regulation) in 2020-21.

With the primary assist on Marchand’s game-winning goal, McAvoy extended his assist streak to eight games (1-10–11 totals in that span)– becoming the first Bruins defender to record at least an eight-game assist streak since Ray Bourque’s 10-game streak in the 1992-93 season (Bourque had 4-13–17 totals in that span).

Boston improved to 2-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 3-1-1 when tied after the second period and 4-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins take on the Rangers again at Madison Square Garden on Friday before venturing to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Saturday. Boston was scheduled to return home on Feb. 15th to face the New Jersey Devils, but that game has already been postponed due to numerous Devils players being in COVID protocol.

The B’s are scheduled to return home on Feb. 18th against New Jersey before facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st outdoors at Lake Tahoe.