NHL Nick's Net

Boston takes Game 3 with, 4-2, victory on home ice

Four different players scored for the Boston Bruins in their, 4-2, win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup Friday night at TD Garden.

Charlie Coyle, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall each had a goal for Boston in their first victory against Carolina since Dec. 3, 2019 (regular season and postseason).

Jeremy Swayman (1-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in one game played) made his first postseason start and picked up the win with a 25-save effort on 27 shots faced.

Swayman became the fourth Bruins rookie goaltender to make their first career playoff start on home ice and win, joining Tiny Thompson (Game 1 of the 1929 Semifinal against Montréal), Mike Moffat (Game 1 of the 1982 Adams Division Semifinal against Buffalo) and Andrew Raycroft (Game 1 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against Montréal) in the process.

Hurricanes goaltender, Pyotr Kochetkov (1-1, 3.30 goals-against average, .900 save percentage in two games played), made 24 saves on 28 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins trail in the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Sunday afternoon in Boston.

The B’s were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Jesper Frödén (lower body) and Hampus Lindholm (upper body) on Friday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup.

First, Cassidy reunited Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak on the first line, while moving Jake DeBrusk to the second line right wing with Hall at left wing and Erik Haula at center.

Tomáš Nosek was promoted to the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith in their usual roles, while Nick Foligno, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner made up the fourth line.

On defense, Mike Reilly went in for Lindholm alongside Charlie McAvoy while Lindholm was out due to injury.

Trent Frederic joined Josh Brown, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser among Boston’s healthy scratches for Game 3.

Jordan Martinook caught Hall with a high stick at 4:47 of the first period, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on their first power play of the night.

Less than five minutes later, Brendan Smith kept the puck in the attacking zone and threw a shot towards the net before Vincent Trocheck (2) corralled the puck and wrapped it around Swayman with a change of pace.

Smith (1) had the only assist on Trocheck’s goal and the Hurricanes took a, 1-0, lead at 9:17 of the first period as a result.

Moments later, Martinook cut a rut back to the sin bin for hooking Lazar at 13:10.

Once more, however, Boston wasn’t able to muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

Instead, the B’s presented Carolina with their first power play of the night at 16:07 of the first period after Haula hauled down Jesper Fast with a trip.

The Canes didn’t convert on the power play and, worse, gave up a shorthanded goal against in the process.

DeBrusk broke into the attacking zone and connected with Coyle (1) on a tape-to-tape pass that Coyle batted out of mid-air to beat Kochetkov to tie the game, 1-1, at 17:16.

DeBrusk (1) had the only assist on Coyle’s shorthanded goal.

Late in the period, Marchand slashed the Tony DeAngelo’s stick out of his hands and took a trip to the sin bin as a result at 19:25.

Boston’s penalty kill would spill over into the middle frame unscathed, however.

The score was tied, 1-1, after 20 minutes of action, with the Hurricanes leading the Bruins in shots on goal, 11-8.

Carolina also dominated in blocked shots (7-3) and takeaways (7-0), while the B’s led in giveaways (3-2), hits (13-12) and faceoff win percentage (52-48).

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

Marchand (1) cut to the slot reminiscent of a prominent scoring move in EA Sports’ NHL 94, settled the puck and buried the rubber biscuit in the back of the twine to give Boston their first lead against Carolina all year (regular season and postseason combined) at 5:41 of the second period.

Bergeron (1) had the only assist on Marchand’s tally as the Bruins took a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard.

About a minute later, Connor Clifton cross checked Martinook and presented the Canes with a power play at 6:48, but Carolina couldn’t muster a goal on the resulting skater advantage.

Less than a minute later, DeAngelo and Marchand exchanged pleasantries by the benches and received roughing and interference infractions, respectively, at 7:44.

Shortly thereafter, Martinook tried to hit Hall in the neutral zone and ended up taking the worst of it– colliding and landing awkwardly, while sustaining a lower body injury in the process.

Moments later, Ian Cole interfered with Lazar and yielded another power play to Boston at 12:36.

It quickly became a two-skater advantage at 13:05, when Trocheck hooked Marchand and presented the Bruins with a 5-on-3 power play as a result for about 1:31.

The Hurricanes killed Cole’s minor, but couldn’t keep Boston’s power play off the board as Pastrnak (1) snapped a shot from the right dot past Kochetkov’s short side to extend the lead to two-goals.

Marchand (2) and Coyle (1) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 14:53 of the second period.

While the 17,850 in attendance celebrated the goal, however, a pane of glass came crashing down on timeout coordinator, Joe Foley, in Boston’s penalty box requiring medical assistance from both trainers and in-arena staff.

Foley was stretchered off the ice and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for observation and should be fine, NHL spokesperson, John Dellapina, told The Associated Press.

After a seven-minute delay, play resumed and Clifton cut a rut to the box shortly thereafter for roughing, which was briefly reviewed by the on-ice officials as Brendan Smith’s visor cut the Hurricanes defender and drew blood at 15:41.

The Bruins made the kill on Clifton’s infraction.

Entering the second intermission, Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 21-19, in shots on goal.

The B’s had a, 13-8, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone and led in hits (21-19), blocked shots (19-8), as well as faceoff win% (56-44) after 40 minutes of play.

Carolina held the advantage in takeaways (7-3) and giveaways (9-6), while the Hurricanes went 0-for-4 on the power play through two periods.

Boston was 1-for-4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Prior to the third period, the Canes tweeted that Martinook would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury and head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, told reporters after the game that Martinook’s prognosis didn’t look good.

Meanwhile, Trocheck tripped Nosek at 3:49 of the third period and yielded another power play to Boston.

The Bruins made quick work of the resulting skater advantage with Hall (2) dishing a pass across the slot to Pastrnak before receiving a setup in return for a one-timer goal from the doorstep of the crease as Kochetkov fell behind going from right to left.

Pastrnak (1) and Marchand (3) had the assists on Hall’s power-play goal and the B’s had a, 4-1, lead at 4:08 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Foligno was penalized for cross checking at 4:48, but Carolina couldn’t muster a power-play goal.

Midway through the third, however, Jaccob Slavin (1) lobbed a shot from the point with eyes past Swayman on the glove side to make it a two-goal deficit.

Slavin’s goal was unassisted as the Hurricanes trailed, 4-2, at 11:30 of the third period.

With 2:42 remaining in regulation, Brind’Amour pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

He later used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:36 left on the clock, but Boston stood tall and continued to block shots to the very end of the night with Derek Forbort tying a team-record for most blocked shots in a single postseason game (9), done twice before by Dennis Seidenberg in 2013, and the late Steve Montador in 2009.

At the final horn, the Bruins had taken Game 3 by a final score of, 4-2, and cut the series lead down to 2-1 in favor of the Hurricanes.

Boston left their own ice leading in shots on goal, 28-27, despite Carolina outshooting the Bruins, 8-7, in the third period alone.

The B’s also wrapped up Friday night’s action leading in blocked shots (29-12) and faceoff win% (57-43), while the Canes left TD Garden leading in giveaways (12-7) and hits (40-33) after Game 3.

The Hurricanes went 0-for-5 on the skater advantage, while Boston went 2-for-5 on the power play on Friday.

The Bruins improved to 14-15 all time in Game 3s when trailing 2-0 in a best-of-seven series, as well as 1-1 when tied after the first period and 1-0 when leading after the second period this postseason.

Carolina, meanwhile, fell to 1-1 when tied after one and 0-1 when trailing through two periods in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With the loss in Game 3, the Hurricanes now lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Puck drop in Boston is set for 12:30 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on ESPN in the United States, as well as SN and TVAS in Canada.

Carolina can take a commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to Raleigh for Game 5 while the B’s could even the series 2-2 with another win in Game 4.

NHL Nick's Net

Bergeron passes Bourque in, 5-3, road victory against Canadiens

It was a historic night at Bell Centre Sunday night as the Montréal Canadiens and their fans honored the life and memory of the late Guy Lafleur with a tribute and a 10-minute standing ovation before the Patrice Bergeron and Erik Haula each scored a pair of goals in a, 5-3, win for the Boston Bruins.

Bergeron surpassed Montréal native, Ray Bourque, for sole possession of the fourth-most goals in Bruins franchise history, while Haula scored the second penalty shot goal of the season in an unconventional fashion.

Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy’s late second period goal held up to be the game-winner for Boston as goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (23-13-3, 2.37 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in 40 games played), made 23 saves on 26 shots agaisnt in the win.

Canadiens netminder, Sam Montembeault (7-18-6, 3.79 goals-against average, .892 save percentage in 37 games played), turned aside 37 out of 41 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 49-25-5 (103 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Montréal fell to 20-49-11 (51 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place in the Atlantic Division as Habs fans await the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on May 10th.

For the first time since the 2017-18 season, Boston swept Montréal in their regular season series, 4-0-0. The B’s also went 4-0-0 against the Habs in 2017-18, and did not face the Canadiens last season due to the temporarily realigned divisions and condensed 56-game schedule.

Boston went 3-1-0 against Montréal in 2019-20.

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Sunday, while David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm joined Josh Brown and Anton Blidh on the list of healthy scratches against the Canadiens as expected.

Bruce Cassidy promoted Tomáš Nosek from his usual fourth line center duties to that of the second line right wing role, while Curtis Lazar slid over on the fourth line to Nosek’s regular spot with Marc McLaughlin re-entering the lineup.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk was paired with McAvoy, while Mike Reilly and Brandon Carlo rounded out the top-four defenders.

Linus Ullmark served as Swayman’s backup, while Pastrnak, Lindholm and Ullmark were all expected to be given the night off as Cassidy told reporters ahead of the game that he’d manage playing time with the playoffs in mind.

A pair of milestones unrelated to performance were met on Sunday as Carlo suited up in his 400th career NHL game, while Charlie Coyle took part in his 700th career game.

Joel Edmundson tripped Connor Clifton at 6:23 of the first period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play– their first and only skater advantage of the night.

The Bruins matched their longest streak of games without a power play goal (10) for the first time since their inaugural season (1924-25).

Midway through the opening frame, Josh Anderson and Derek Forbort each cut a rut to their respective sin bins for roughing at 10:55.

After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams resumed 5-on-5 play without issue.

Late in the period, Bergeron (21) gathered a loose puck on the doorstep and buried it into the open twine as Montembeault was caught behind the play after Jake DeBrusk fired the initial shot on net.

DeBrusk (16) and Brad Marchand (44) tabbed the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 15:03 of the first period.

Bergeron’s first goal of the game put him in sole possession of the fourth-most goals in club history for the B’s, surpassing Bourque in the process as Bergeron collected his 396th career goal (all with Boston).

The goal also marked Boston’s 2,000th goal against Montréal in franchise history.

A few minutes later, Mike Hoffman slashed Haula’s stick while skating alongside No. 56 in black and gold yielding– for some reason– a penalty shot for Haula at 18:03 as the on-ice officials determined that Hoffman’s infraction was enough to negate a scoring chance on a breakaway, apparently.

Haula (16) skated past the puck on his initial entry on the penalty shot, but as he never touched the rubber biscuit with his blade– and therefore did not move it forward before going back to retrieve it– he kept his composure, collected the puck, approached Montembeault and wired a shot under the glove side to give Boston a two-goal lead, 2-0.

For just the fourth time in franchise history, Haula joined Tim Taylor (April 15, 1998), Leo Boivin (Jan. 4, 1964) and Woody Dumart (Jan. 14, 1940) as the only Bruins to score a penalty-shot goal against the Canadiens.

Less than a minute later, Marchand retaliated against Jeff Petry for a clean hit that Petry made on Bergeron.

As a result, Marchand was sent to the box with a roughing infraction at 18:52 of the first period.

The B’s would be down two skaters after the first intermission when Trent Frederic picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct minor at 20:00 of the first period after he tried to engage Petry after the opening frame came to an end.

After one period of action, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and led in shots on goal, 17-8, as well as in blocked shots (4-2) and hits (14-11).

The Canadiens held the advantage in giveaways (7-5), while both teams had two takeaways each and split faceoff win percentage, 50-50.

Montréal and Boston were also 0-for-1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

The B’s survived Marchand’s minor, but couldn’t survive Frederic’s infraction as the Canadiens continued to pressure in the attacking zone before Petry forged a pass via Brendan Gallagher to Anderson (19) for a power-play goal on a shot with eyes past Swayman.

Gallagher (16) and Petry (19) had the assists on Anderson’s goal and the Habs trailed, 2-1, at 1:51 of the second period.

Boston responded less than a few minutes later as Clifton sent a pass up to Nosek on a rush before Nosek setup Haula (17) with a tape-to-tape pass for the catch and release goal at 4:04 of the second period.

Nosek (14) and Clifton (8) notched the assists and the Bruins went ahead by two goals once more, 3-1.

About a minute later, Haula headed off to the box for interference– taking Jake Evans with him, though, as Evans was assessed an embellishment infraction to present some more 4-on-4 action at 5:16.

Less than a minute later, however, Grzelcyk tripped Anderson and yielded an abbreviated 4-on-3 power play to the Canadiens at 5:47.

Montréal could not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Laurent Dauphin checked Taylor Hall along the boards leaving Hall out of breath, but the Bruins forward managed to skate off on his own after a stoppage and never went down the tunnel.

Cassidy informed reporters that Hall must have simply “had the wind knocked out of him” and indicated that he didn’t expect the Boston forward to miss any time.

Marchand and Anderson exchanged pleasantries late in the period yielding slashing and cross checking minors, respectively, at 16:12 and resulting in more 4-on-4 action for the two squads.

On an attacking zone faceoff, the Bruins won the puck back to the point where McAvoy (10) snapped a shot past Montembeault’s blocker side to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Bergeron (37) had the only assist on the goal as McAvoy made it, 4-1, at 18:09 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action Sunday night, the Bruins led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and held a, 31-16, advantage in shots on goal– including a, 14-8, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Boston also led in hits (23-22), while Montréal led in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (13-9) and faceoff win% (51-49) after two periods.

Both teams had eight blocked shots aside, while the Canadiens were 1-for-3 and the Bruins were 0-for-1 on the skater advantage.

McLaughlin lifted the puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game infraction at 3:10 of the third period and the Habs didn’t take long to capitalize on the ensuing advantage.

Montréal won a faceoff back to the point where Petry slid a pass across the ice to Hoffman (13) for a one-timer blast off the iron and in– bringing the Canadiens to within two goals at 3:13.

Petry (20) and Christian Dvorak (19) had the assists on Hoffman’s power-play goal and the Habs trailed, 4-2.

Almost midway through the final frame, Nick Suzuki (21) caught a pass and released a shot from the slot past Swayman after the Bruins failed to clear their own zone.

Mathieu Perreault (4) and Michael Pezzetta (4) had the assists on Suzuki’s goal and the Canadiens trailed, 4-3, at 7:19 of the third period.

With 2:20 remaining in the action, Montréal’s interim head coach, Martin St. Louis, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

After Forbort’s shot attempt was knocked down by a high stick in Boston’s attacking zone, however, Montembeault had to return to the crease otherwise the Canadiens would’ve allowed a surefire empty net goal.

With 51.8 seconds remaining, Montembeault vacated the net once more.

After a stoppage with 26.2 seconds left, St. Louis used his timeout to rally his skaters for one last chance, but the Bruins wound up getting another rush in the dying seconds of the game after Nosek and Marchand won a battle along the boards.

Marchand fed an indirect pass off the boards across the width of the ice for Bergeron (22) to retrieve and skate into the attacking zone mostly unguarded before burying the puck in the empty net for his second goal of the game and another two-goal advantage for Boston.

Marchand (45) had the only assist on Bergeron’s empty net goal and the Bruins led, 5-3, at 19:53 of the third period.

As a result of the goal, Bergeron now trails Rick Middleton by five goals for the third-most in franchise history, while Marchand is nine points away from reaching the 800-point plateau in his career.

He’s also two points away (791) from tying Wayne Cashman (793) for the seventh-most points in Bruins franchise history.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-3, and left Bell Centre leading in shots on goal, 42-26, including an, 11-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins also finished the night leading in giveaways (19-16) and hits (36-28), while the Canadiens exited their own ice with the advantage in blocked shots (17-10) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Montréal went 2-for-4 on the power play on Sunday, while Boston went 0-for-1.

Meanwhile, Swayman picked up his 23rd win of the season and moved into sole possession of the fourth-most wins by a rookie goaltender in B’s franchise history, trailing Frank Brimsek (33), Andrew Raycroft (29) and Tiny Thompson (26) as a result.

Tuukka Rask, Marco Baron and Jack Gelineau are now tied for the fifth-most with 22.

The Habs are now on a nine-game losing streak (all in regulation) and fell to 6-38-8 (3-21-3 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-32-8 (2-16-3 at home) when trailing after one period and 3-40-6 (1-22-2 at home) when losing after two periods in 2021-22.

Boston improved to 36-9-2 (19-4-1 on the road) when scoring first, 28-5-1 (14-2-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 31-1-3 (17-0-2 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

The B’s have three games remaining in the regular season, while the Toronto Maple Leafs have two games and the Tampa Bay Lightning have three games left in their schedules.

Toronto is 2nd in the Atlantic Division and can clinch home ice in the First Round with at least one point in their remaining games, while Tampa would need to win out their final three games and hope for the Maple Leafs to lose their last two games in regulation.

Boston cannot finish higher than 3rd in the Atlantic and is not destined to have home ice in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs unless they meet another wild card in the later rounds.

Entering Monday, the B’s would face the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2022 First Round, though if Boston falls behind the Washington Capitals (100 points) in the wild card standings, there’s always a chance they’ll face the Florida Panthers.

In any case, Toronto would face Tampa if Boston is a wild card team.

Otherwise, we could be looking at another Bruins vs. Leafs First Round series if Boston is able to overcome the Lightning in the division standings.

The Bruins host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and Buffalo Sabres on Thursday before closing out the 2021-22 regular season Friday night on the road against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.

NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes sweep season series against Boston for first time in 10 years

The Carolina Hurricanes shutout the Boston Bruins, 6-0, Thursday night at TD Garden to sweep their regular season series (3-0-0) against Boston for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

Andrei Svechnikov had a three-point night (one goal, two assists), while Frederik Andersen (25-6-1, 2.01 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 32 games played) made 34 saves on 34 shots against for his second shutout of the season.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (16-7-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 25 games played) stopped 37 out of 43 shots faced in the loss.

Dating back to the 2019-20 season– as the two teams did not meet in the temporarily realigned division-based schedules in 2020-21– three out of their last four regular season games have been shutouts with the Hurricanes amassing two shutouts this season against Boston, while the B’s shutout the Canes in their only meeting in 2019-20.

In 2021-22 alone, Carolina outscored Boston, 16-1.

The Bruins last beat the Hurricanes, 2-0, on Dec. 3, 2019, at TD Garden as Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves en route to a shutout victory.

Thursday night in Boston, the Bruins fell to 26-16-3 (57 points) on the season, but remain in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as in command of the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to 32-10-3 (67 points) overall and sit perched atop the Metropolitan Division– two points behind the Florida Panthers for first overall in the entire Eastern Conference– and three points behind the Colorado Avalanche in the race for the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy as the Avs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, Thursday night.

The Bruins were without the likes of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (upper body), Patrice Bergeron (upper body) and Brad Marchand (suspension) in the, 6-0, loss Thursday.

34-year-old goaltender, Tuukka Rask, announced his retirement from the National Hockey League after 15 NHL seasons (all with Boston).

Ultimately, Rask’s body was not responding well enough from offseason hip surgery to continue to play at the level of competition that the Finnish goaltender desired after signing a one-year deal with Boston on Jan. 11th and playing in four games (2-2-0, 4.29 goals-against average, .884 save percentage) this season.

Rask leaves the game leading the franchise in wins (308), games played by a goaltender (564), saves (14,345), minutes played by a goaltender (32,404:55) and second in career goals-against average (2.28), as well as shutouts (52).

He is tied with Tim Thomas for the lead in career save percentage as a Bruin (.921) and was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship roster, serving as Thomas’ backup in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 regular seasons after briefly usurping Thomas for the role of the starter in 2009-10.

Rask was named to the All Star Game in 2017, as well as in 2020, but chose not to go, thereby serving a mandatory one-game suspension in the following game after the All Star break.

He won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2013-14 and shared the honor of winning the William M. Jennings Trophy with Halak in 2019-20.

Tiny Thompson spent parts of 11 seasons with Boston, while Frank Brimsek played in nine, Gerry Cheevers played in 12 and Thomas spent eight years with the club.

Rask made his league debut in the 2007-08 season and played in 15 seasons for Boston. All for Boston.

Thompson was traded to the Detroit Red Wings as Brimsek forced Art Ross’ hand in the 1938-39 season. Brimsek was dealt to Chicago at the twilight of his career prior to the 1949-50 season.

Cheevers left for a stint in the World Hockey Association in Cleveland from 1972-76, before returning to the Bruins.

Thomas sat out the lockout shortened 2012-13 season and was subsequently traded to the New York Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013, as a result before making an NHL comeback with the Florida Panthers in 2013-14, prior to being traded to the Dallas Stars at the 2014 trade deadline, where he finished his career.

The Bruins traded Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Rask on June 24, 2006, after the Leafs selected Rask 21st overall in 2005.

Rask backstopped Boston to three playoff series wins against Toronto in 2013, 2018, and 2019– leading the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013, and 2019.

The torch in the crease passes as Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman look to compete for the starting role in the years to come.

As Bergeron and Marchand were out of the lineup on Thursday, the Bruins had no players remaining from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in the night’s action for just the second time (previous, Dec. 16th at the Islanders in a, 3-1, loss this season while Bergeron and Marchand were in COVID-19 protocol).

Jack Studnicka and Tyler Lewington were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL), while Oskar Steen was reassigned ahead of Thursday night’s loss to Carolina.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, placed Studnicka on the second line with Jake DeBrusk and Craig Smith on his wings– promoting the usual second line to first line duties for the night.

Meanwhile, Trent Frederic and Anton Blidh returned to action with Frederic at left wing on the third line and Blidh at left wing on the fourth line.

Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno joined Frederic on the checking line, while Tomáš Nosek and Curtis Lazar were the usual suspects with Blidh on the fourth line.

Bergeron, Lewington, Vaakanainen, Marchand and Zboril were all out of the lineup due to injury, suspension or healthy scratch purposes on Thursday.

Cassidy informed reporters after the game that Bergeron would not be traveling with the team to Ottawa for Saturday’s matinée on the road against the Senators and remains “day-to-day” with a head injury.

Martin Nečas cross checked Charlie McAvoy and presented Boston with the night’s first power play at 1:29 of the first period on Thursday.

The Bruins, however, did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes later, Ian Cole caught Lazar with a high stick at 4:21, but once again the B’s were powerless on the power play.

Frederic cut a rut to the box for cross checking Svechnikov at 7:43 of the first period and yielded Carolina their first power play of the game as a result.

It didn’t take the Hurricanes long before they converted on the skater advantage as Vincent Trocheck (13) stood in the right place at the right time to kick a pass to himself and score on the far side on a rebound.

Teuvo Teräväinen (22) and Svechnikov (23) tallied the assists on Trocheck’s power-play goal as the Canes pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:26 of the first period.

About a minute later, McAvoy unloaded on a clean hit in the neutral zone on Sebastian Aho– drawing the ire and a response from Tony DeAngelo as the two defenders exchanged fisticuffs and received fighting majors at 9:35.

Moments later, Connor Clifton cut a rut to the sin bin or interference at 13:17, but Teräväinen shortly followed at 14:17 for hooking.

After one minute of 4-on-4 action and an abbreviated power play for the Bruins, neither team could muster another goal on the scoreboard, despite Carolina receiving a power play that bled into the middle frame courtesy of a high stick from David Pastrnak on Nečas at 18:07 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 18-11, in shots on goal.

The Canes also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (3-0), giveaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Meanwhile, the Bruins held the advantage in hits (22-9).

Carolina went 1/3 and Boston went 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Bruins failed to clear their own zone and turned the puck over right to Svechnikov (18) for an unassisted shot that had eyes and beat Ullmark high on the blocker side.

The Hurricanes jumped out to a, 2-0, lead as a result at 2:35 of the second period and kept pouring it on as the period continued.

Almost midway through the second period, Nečas sent a shot towards the net that Teräväinen deflected off Ullmark and generated a fortunate rebound to Aho (20) as Aho crashed the net in open ice– extending Carolina’s lead to three goals in the process.

Teräväinen (23) and Nečas (16) notched the assists on Aho’s goal as a result and the Hurricanes pulled ahead, 3-0, at 8:01.

Late in the period, while dominating attacking zone possession, the Canes generated yet another rebound that Jesper Fast scooped up and dropped a pass back to the point where Brett Pesce (3) fluttered a shot past the Boston netminder to give Carolina a four-goal lead.

Fast (8) and Jordan Staal (11) had the assists as the Hurricanes took a, 4-0, lead at 14:02 of the second period.

Minutes later, Svechnikov and Matt Grzelcyk collided awkwardly in the corner as Grzelcyk went down in pain– clutching his right shoulder.

After a minute on the ice, Grzelcyk skated off on his own power and went down the tunnel, but did not return to the night’s action.

Through 40 minutes of action Thursday night, the Hurricanes led, 4-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 29-22, despite both teams amassing 11 shots on net each in the second period alone.

Carolina held the advantage in blocked shots (7-1), takeaways (4-1) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Boston led in hits (36-26).

Both teams had eight giveaways each, while the Canes remained 1/3 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Foligno thought he scored a goal and got the Bruins on the board 22 seconds into the third period– only, the on-ice officials quickly waved off the would-be goal.

The official call on ice was no goal by rule of incidental contact with the goaltender as Foligno’s momentum brought him into touch with Andersen– up close and personal as he bowled into the Hurricanes goaltender.

Cassidy challenged the call on the ice on the grounds that he believed his Boston forward was pushed by Brady Skjei, which caused Foligno to continue his path towards the net instead of having a last second chance to bail out.

Video review did not agree with Cassidy’s interpretation of events and the call on the ice was confirmed– no goal.

The Bruins were assessed a bench minor for delay of game as a result of losing the challenge and sent DeBrusk to serve the infraction in the box.

Late on the ensuing power play, Teräväinen gathered a pass from Svechnikov, twirled and spun the rubber biscuit over to Aho (21) for Aho’s second goal of the game– giving Carolina a, 5-0, lead on the scoreboard.

Teräväinen (24) and Svechnikov (24) tallied the assists on Aho’s power-play goal at 1:58 of the third period.

Shortly thereafter, Steven Lorentz tripped Derek Forbort at 6:50, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside (by now you should probably realize this, since Carolina shutout the Bruins on Thursday).

There was no change in the number of skaters on the ice when McAvoy and Aho got into a shoving match and exchanged slashing minors at 8:13.

Things started to quiet down thereafter before Carolina made one more mark on the scoreboard courtesy of a great display of hand-eye coordination from Staal.

Off of an attacking zone faceoff win, Skjei received a pass at the point and wound up to take a shot.

Skjei sent the puck fluttering through the air whereby Staal (3) tipped the shot close past Smith and over Ullmark’s glove to give the Hurricanes a, 6-0, advantage on the scoreboard.

Skjei (12) recorded the only assist on Staal’s goal at 15:24 of the third period.

After that, there were no more goals and no more penalties for the rest of the night– just the sound of the final horn when time ticked down to zeros across the clock.

Carolina won, 6-0, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-34, while also amassing a, 14-12, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Hurricanes left TD Garden leading in blocked shots (13-4), giveaways (10-9) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Bruins exited their own building leading in hits (42-32).

The Canes went 2/4 on the power play on Thursday, while the B’s finished the night 0/4 on the skater advantage.

Andersen, meanwhile, picked up his second shutout of the season, as well as the 21st of his career in the process as Carolina finished their regular season series with Boston– outscoring the Bruins by a combined score of, 16-1, over three games.

Both of Andersen’s shutouts so far in 2021-22, came against the Bruins as the Hurricanes swept their regular season series against the B’s.

Boston fell to 9-10-3 (6-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-10-2 (4-6-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-13-2 (3-8-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to 23-3-2 (12-2-2 on the road) when scoring first, 19-1-1 (8-1-1 on the road) when leading after one and 22-1-1 (8-0-1 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for the next four games and will pay a visit to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, New York Rangers next Tuesday, New York Islanders next Thursday and Senators once more next Saturday.

Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 21st before swinging through Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to close out the month of February.

NHL Nick's Net

Penguins complete comeback in first meeting with Boston this season

Danton Heinen scored a pair of goals in his first game back at TD Garden as a member of the visiting team since he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie on Feb. 24, 2020, while Sidney Crosby scored the eventual game-winning goal and Bryan Rust added an empty net goal to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Boston Bruins, 4-2, on Tuesday night.

Heinen signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent on July 29, 2021, after spending parts of two seasons with Anaheim. The Ducks opted not to tender a qualifying offer to the then would have been-restricted free agent.

Meanwhile, Tristan Jarry (24-8-6, 2.21 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 38 games played) made a season-high 43 saves on 45 shots against in the win for the Penguins.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (8-7-2, 2.35 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 18 games played) stopped 21 out of 24 shots faced in the loss.

David Pastrnak had a pair of goals in Boston’s loss and Patrice Bergeron exited the game midway through the third period with an upper body injury induced by what was deemed as an “incidental” trip (as there was no penalty on the play) by Crosby.

The B’s will likely be without Brad Marchand in their next matchup as a result of his antics in the final minute of the action, but more on that after as we recap some roster news and notes from the All Star break to Tuesday night’s loss.

But first, a quick standings update.

Boston fell to 26-15-3 (55 points) overall, but still holds on to 4th place in the Atlantic Division as well as the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh improved to 28-11-8 (64 points) on the season and in command of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

The B’s fell to 0-1-0 against the Pens this season after amassing a 5-3-0 record in their regular season series in 2020-21, as well as a 2-1-0 record against Pittsburgh in 2019-20.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body), Tuukka Rask (lower body) and Urho Vaakanainen (upper body) on Tuesday, while Nick Foligno and Erik Haula made their return to the lineup.

Foligno took Anton Blidh’s spot on the fourth line left wing, while Haula resumed his role as the second line center with Tomáš Nosek returning to his fourth line job.

As a result of the lineup changes and in accordance with the league’s rules on temporary taxi squads up until the All Star break, Steven Fogarty, Tyler Lewington and Jesper Frödén were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

On defense, Connor Clifton took over Vaakanainen’s spot on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort.

Frederic, Rask, Vaakanainen, Zboril and Blidh made up Boston’s list of injured players and healthy scratches against the Penguins.

During the first intermission The Athletic‘s, Fluto Shinzawa, reported that Rask’s comeback from offseason hip surgery was likely coming to an end and that the 34-year-old goaltender is considering a retirement announcement in the next few days.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, offered no update on Rask’s status after the game other than reiterating that Rask will be unavailable for the week and any decisions that may suggest retirement would come from Rask– not as a team directive.

If Rask is, in fact, retiring, he would do so as Boston’s winningest goaltender in franchise history, amassing 308 wins in 564 career NHL games– all with the Bruins– since making his league debut in 2007-08.

In that 15-season span, Rask would finish with a career goals-against average of 2.28 and a career save percentage of .921 in about 32,405 minutes played– the most by any Boston goaltender in club history, while ranking second in shutouts (52) to Tiny Thompson’s 74.

He also served as the backup netminder on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion roster and backstopped Boston to two more Final appearances in 2013, and 2019.

Almost two minutes into the opening frame, Radim Zohorna tripped up Charlie Coyle and cut a rut to the penalty box at 1:40 of the first period as result.

It didn’t take Boston long to convert on the ensuing power play, as Brian Boyle botched an indirect pass up the boards intended for John Marino that was instead snagged by Bergeron as the Bruins captain kept the rubber biscuit in the attacking zone.

Bergeron worked a pass up to Taylor Hall, who set up Pastrnak (23) for a one-timer goal from one knee at the faceoff dot– giving the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 2:01 of the first period in the process.

Hall (20) and Bergeron (23) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

A few minutes later, Jake DeBrusk hooked Dominik Simon and presented the Penguins with their first power play of the night at 5:27.

Boston’s penalty kill stood tall, however, and killed off DeBrusk’s minor.

Late in the period, the Pens turned the puck over in their attacking zone– rendering a de facto 3-on-1 opportunity for the Bruins as Haula sent a pass to Hall through the zone before Hall’s shot generated a rebound whereby Pastrnak (24) batted the puck out of mid-air and under Jarry’s glove.

Boston took a, 2-0, lead courtesy of Pastrnak’s 40th career two-goal game, while Hall (21) and Haula (12) notched the assists at 15:34 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on net, 17-10.

Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5) and hits (12-11), while Boston led in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

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

Heinen (10) struck early in the second period– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, courtesy of being in the right place at the right time to catch a pass from Brock McGinn on a drive-by through the low slot before wrapping the rubber biscuit around Swayman.

McGinn (6) and Mike Matheson (13) had the assists on Heinen’s first goal of the game at 4:18 of the second period.

Just 28 seconds later, Heinen (11) recorded his second goal of the night courtesy of a shot with eyes from the circle to Swayman’s left off of the Bruins goaltender’s shoulder and into the twine.

Marino (17) and Evan Rodrigues (18) notched the assists on the goal as the Pens tied it, 2-2, at 4:46 of the second period– marking the fastest two goals by one Penguins skater since Martin Straka scored a club-record two goals in a seven-second span on Feb. 11, 2000, against the Edmonton Oilers.

Almost midway through the period, Pittsburgh was caught with too many skaters on the ice– rendering a bench minor at 7:24 that was served by Heinen.

Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Minutes later, Coyle interfered with Jeff Carter and yielded a power play to the Penguins at 11:56.

It took roughly a minute on the skater advantage for Crosby (13) to notch a power-play goal– the eventual game-winner in the process, as well as his 499th career NHL goal– to give Pittsburgh their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 12:53 of the second period.

Rust (19) and Jake Guentzel (24) had the assists on the goal as the Penguins capped off a trio of goals in a span of 8:35.

Late in the period, Matheson and Hall exchanged some pleasantries after a whistle and earned minor penalties for roughing at 18:49– resulting in 4-on-4 action that would seep into the final frame.

Through 40 minutes of action, Pittsburgh led Boston on the scoreboard, 3-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 35-18– including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Penguins held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7) and hits (24-19), while the B’s led in takeaways (9-5), giveaways (7-5) and faceoff win% (66-34).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Craig Smith interfered with McGinn at 1:43 of the third period, but the Penguins weren’t able to score on the ensuing power play to begin the final frame.

Moments later, Crosby took down Bergeron with an errant leg as the Bruins captain smacked the back of his head off the boards while falling.

Bergeron did not return to the night’s action after going down the tunnel under his own power after a brief exchange with a Boston athletic trainer.

Matt Grzelcyk tried to invite Crosby to a square dance shortly thereafter with a swift cross check, but the Pittsburgh captain would not accept and instead was caught retaliating and assessed a roughing minor at 9:25.

The Bruins did not score on the resulting power play, however.

With 1:42 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker amidst the jumbled lines, but as Smith shortly tried to enter the zone and fumbled the puck– Charlie McAvoy couldn’t recover on the error and Rust broke free with possession.

Rust (15) skated through the neutral zone and buried the rubber biscuit in the open basket for a, 4-2, lead at 18:31 of the third period, while Guentzel (25) recorded the only assist.

Swayman vacated the crease once more with about 1:19 left on the clock, but it was ultimately to no avail despite Boston crowding the net in the other end.

After Jarry delivered a quick slash amongst the net front traffic, Marchand took exception to the Pittsburgh goaltender’s action and choice words shortly thereafter– appearing to aggravate the oft-short-tempered Bruin in the process.

Marchand swung a punch at Jarry’s mask and proceeded to get his stick in Jarry’s face– whether or not it was a forceful shove or spear remains at the mercy of the discretion of the officials on the ice and/or league office as Marchand was assessed a match penalty on the play, rendering an automatic suspension unless otherwise stated.

The B’s finished the night shorthanded as Marchand’s roughing minor and match penalty came at 19:35 of the third period.

Jarry took the high road after the game and told reporters “I think it’s just the heat of the moment, everyone’s battling hard out there. [Marchand’s] just trying to get the puck to the net and I think the team did a great job. … It’s part of the game and it stays on the ice.”

Cassidy noted after the game that Marchand’s antics were “undisciplined” and that he “needs to control his emotions in that situation.”

The rest is up to the league now.

At the final horn Tuesday night, the Penguins had won, 4-2, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 45-25.

The Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, 10-7, as well as in giveaways (11-8) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Pittsburgh wrapped up the night’s action leading in blocked shots (19-13) and hits (30-22).

The Pens finished the night 1/4 on the power play while the B’s left their own ice 1/3 on the skater advantage in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-6-0 (9-4-0 at home) when scoring first, 16-1-0 (8-1-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 3-12-2 (3-7-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh improved to 7-8-7 (4-3-3 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-3-3 (3-2-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 21-1-1 (11-1-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday before venturing across the border to visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon to begin a four-game road trip.

The Bruins swing through New York for a pair of games against the Rangers and Islanders before visiting the Senators once more next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

NHL Nick's Net

Marchand nets hat trick in, 5-1, victory over Montréal

Brad Marchand scored a hat trick, while Curtis Lazar had three points (two goals, one assist) and Linus Ullmark made 24 saves in a, 5-1, win for the Boston Bruins over the Montréal Canadiens Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Ullmark (12-5-0, 2.48 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 17 games played) turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Montréal starter, Jake Allen (5-16-2, 3.15 goals-against average, .901 save percentage in 24 games played), made five saves on seven shots against before an injury forced him out of the game in the loss.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, replaced Allen with Sam Montembeault (1-6-2, 3.99 goals-against average, .895 save percentage in 12 games played) 17:11 into the action.

Montembeault made 31 saves on 34 shots for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 20-11-2 (42 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Habs fell to 7-24-4 (18 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place (last) in the Atlantic.

The B’s are now 2-0-0 against the Canadiens this season in their regular season series with a pair of games left to play in Montréal.

Tuukka Rask served as the backup goaltender for Boston on Wednesday after recovering from offseason hip surgery and signing a one-year contract with a cap hit of $1.000 million ($545,000 in actual salary given the time of the signing) on Tuesday.

Rask went 15-5-2 in 24 games last season with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in that span, as well as two shutouts.

In 560 career National Hockey League games since making his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season, Rask has 306 wins, a career 2.27 goals-against average, a career .921 save percentage and 52 shutouts.

He holds Bruins franchise records in games played by a goalie (560), wins (306), shots against (15,485), saves (14,269), save percentage (.922) and minutes (32,206) and ranks second in goals-against average (2.27, trailing Tiny Thompson’s 1.99 career GAA in a B’s sweater), as well as shutouts (52, trailing Thompson’s 74).

As a result of Rask’s signing, Jeremy Swayman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) as Swayman is not eligible for the NHL’s taxi squad designation.

Boston Sports Journal‘s Conor Ryan noted in a tweet on Tuesday that Rask “was assigned to Providence 10 times between Sept. 2007 and Feb. 2009 before finally carving out an NHL spot. One of those assignments was two days after a 21-year-old Rask had a 35-save shutout against NYR. It’s part of the process,” in an effort to quell feelings of uneasiness watching Swaymen get sent down among Bruins fans.

B’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, informed reporters on Tuesday that Swayman, while disappointed, understands the organization’s decision and shows the drive to get back to the NHL level if an injury or otherwise should occur and necessitate another call-up.

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

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, told reporters ahead of the game against Montréal that Frederic would miss the next two games– at least– while Foligno could return to action next week.

Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek returned from the league’s COVID-19 protocol and were re-inserted in the lineup against the Canadiens.

DeBrusk suited up on the third line in his usual spot at left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Nosek resumed his regular role as the fourth line center– flanked by Anton Blidh and Lazar on the wings.

On defense, Cassidy left his pairings alone from Monday night’s, 7-3, win in Washington, D.C. despite Boston having called up Tyler Lewington on an emergency basis.

Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore, Troy Grosenick and Steven Fogarty were reassigned to Providence on Tuesday in what was simply a paper transaction for Vaakanainen and Moore (the pair were recalled prior to facing the Canadiens), while Grosenick and Fogarty remained with the P-Bruins on Wednesday.

Boston’s long list of players out of the lineup against Montréal included Frederic (upper body), Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID-19 protocol), Lewington (taxi squad), Zboril (right ACL), Clifton (COVID-19 protocol) and Karson Kuhlman (healthy scratch).

Prior to the singing of the anthems, the Bruins held a moment of silence to honor the life of Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old hockey player from Connecticut that was killed as a result of an injury that he sustained in a game last week.

Midway through the opening frame, Jeff Petry had his helmet knocked off by Blidh and kept on playing as if nothing had happened. Except that’s a penalty these days.

Petry cut a rut to the box for playing without a helmet and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 9:22 of the first period, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage.

Late in the period, Marchand snuck onto the ice in the midst of a line change and stood open on the left side of the net on the doorstep as Nosek sent a shot-pass to Marchand (17) for the redirection behind Allen.

The Bruins led, 1-0, as Nosek (5) and Lazar (6) notched the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the night at 14:43 of the first period.

A mere 15 seconds later, Marchand (18) one-timed the puck out of mid-air through Allen’s five-hole after the rubber biscuit was initially shot by Craig Smith off of a Montréal defender— high and wide before bouncing off the glass over the net to Marchand.

Smith (8) and Patrice Bergeron (16) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game and Boston led, 2-0, at 14:58.

Marchand, as a result, became the first Bruin to score a pair of goals in 15 seconds since Milan Lucic notched a pair en route to scoring a hat trick against the Florida Panthers in a, 4-0, win on Nov. 18, 2010, at TD Garden.

Coincidentally, Marchand would later complete a hat trick of his own in Wednesday night’s victory.

After giving up two goals that were 15 seconds apart, Allen spoke with a Canadiens athletic trainer and was taken out of the game.

Late in the period, DeBrusk sent a shot towards the net looking for an intentional deflection off of Lazar’s (4) foot and into the twine.

DeBrusk (5) and Matt Grzelcyk (12) earned the assists as the Bruins took a, 3-0, lead at 19:10 of the first period.

Heading into the first intermission, Boston led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 13-6, in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Canadiens dominated in blocked shots (7-1), takeaways (5-1), giveaways (2-0) and hits (14-12).

Montréal had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Bergeron slashed Jonathan Drouin to avoid giving up a quick goal in the second period, but was sent to the box at 3:19 anyway– yielding a power play to the Canadiens as a result.

Montréal couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, but got another chance at 6:41 of the second period when Erik Haula was assessed a hooking minor for yanking on Mike Hoffman with his stick.

The Canadiens were subsequently embarrassed on the ensuing special teams play, however, as Marchand (19) scored a shorthanded goal to complete his hat trick and give Boston a, 4-0, lead at 7:10.

Moore (1) and Bergeron (17) had the assists as Marchand picked out a hat from the ice to give to an equipment manager on the Bruins’ bench for safekeeping until after the game.

For the fifth time in his career, Marchand had scored a hat trick and became just the second Bruin to amass three goals in a game this season as Bergeron had previously done so in a, 5-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 4, 2021.

Less than a minute later, Ben Chiarot was sent to the box for roughing at 7:50, but Boston couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Michael Pezzetta (2) received a pass from Brett Kulak and spun around before flinging the puck on Ullmark’s short side– scoring a goal as the Bruins failed to clear the zone and broke down in their own end.

Kulak (7) had the only assist as the Canadiens trailed, 4-1, at 10:46 of the second period.

A minute later, Bergeron went back to the box for roughing at 11:49 as he retaliated for a hit behind his own net that he didn’t like when a Montréal player took down Grzelcyk below the goal line.

Montréal’s power play was cut short as Nick Suzuki was penalized for holding at 13:41, resulting in a little 4-on-4 action for nine seconds before an abbreviated power play for Boston began.

Finally, at 19:10 of the second period, Kulak cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing, but the Bruins wouldn’t convert on the skater advantage even as it bled into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and dominated in shots on goal, 28-15, including a, 15-9, advantage in the middle frame alone.

The Habs, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (10-3), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (5-4) and hits (22-17), as Boston controlled faceoff win%, 53-47.

Montréal was 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Moore would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury.

Smith tripped Joel Armia 47 seconds into the third period and yielded 26 seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for Montréal as a result.

The Canadiens didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Marchand took down Suzuki as the Canadiens forward almost had his stick on the puck resulting in an interference minor for Marchand at 5:48 of the third period.

It wasn’t that much longer before things started to get chippy on the ice between the two rival clubs.

A scrum after a whistle at 6:57 of the third period quickly descended into an exchange of forceful shoves and move as Pezzetta and Carlo received roughing minors while Chris Wideman head-butted Haula– further escalating the situation.

Haula received a minor for roughing, while Wideman was assessed two minutes for roughing as well as an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction.

Both teams skated at 4-on-4 for a little longer before resuming full even strength, resulting in a dominant possession for the Bruins at the other end.

Vaakanainen blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lazar’s (5) blade and flew under Montembeault’s blocker to give Boston another four-goal lead at 10:19 of the third period.

Vaakanainen (3) and Blidh (6) tallied the assists on Lazar’s second goal of the game and the Bruins led, 5-1.

Minutes later, Ullmark and Laurent Dauphin exchanged pleasantries leading a quick chop that went uncalled as Ullmark instead received an interference minor and Dauphin was handed an embellishment infraction.

Taylor Hall served Ullmark’s penalty while Dauphin had to answer Haula in an exchange of fisticuffs as the boiling point had been reached at 15:o5 of the third period in just the ninth fighting major this season for the Bruins.

The action simmered down afterwards and remained relatively calm as the final minutes winded down and the final horn sounded.

Boston had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-25.

Montréal left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (10-4), giveaways (10-5) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins exited their own ice leading in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams went 0/5 on the power play on Wednesday as the B’s earned their third three-game win streak of the season.

Boston improved to 13-5-0 (6-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 14-0-0 (6-0-0 at home) when leading after one period and 15-1-0 (5-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, fell to 2-20-1 (0-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-13-2 (0-9-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-20-2 (0-11-2 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins (1-0-0) continue their seven-game homestand on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) before hosting the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks will also visit Boston before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.

NHL Nick's Net Numbers Game

Look To The Rafters: Boston Bruins (Part II)

In the early days of DTFR, we made an educated guess as to who each team might honor in the future regarding retired jersey numbers. Since then, the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence and more than a few jersey numbers went out of circulation across the league. 

It’s time for an update and a look at who the Boston Bruins might honor by hanging their name and number from the rafters of TD Garden someday.

Boston Bruins Current Retired Numbers

2 Eddie Shore

3 Lionel Hitchman

4 Bobby Orr

5 Dit Clapper

7 Phil Esposito

8 Cam Neely

9 Johnny Bucyk

15 Milt Schmidt

16 Rick Middleton

24 Terry O’Reilly

77 Ray Bourque

Did Anything Change In The Last Five Years?

Yes! Rick Middleton had his No. 16 retired by the Bruins on Nov. 29, 2018, after scoring 898 points in 881 games with Boston over 12 seasons from 1976-88.

Possible Numbers to Retire Someday

30 Gerry Cheevers/Tim Thomas

The Bruins have never retired a goaltender’s jersey number, so why not make the first one count for two of the most prolific Boston netminders in the Expansion Era?

Boston has a chance to right a few wrongs if there’s any ill will leftover from Cheevers’ departure to the World Hockey Association (WHA) and back or Thomas’ debacle regarding his year-long vacation from the sport that led to being suspended from the team and his trade to the New York Islanders in Feb. 2013, while Thomas was resting at home reconnecting with (in his words) his family, friends and faith.

Last month, I addressed the pros and cons facing what might be a longshot at this point for No. 30 to ever be raised to the rafters at TD Garden in Cheevers’ and/or Thomas’ honor, but with Rick Middleton having his No. 16 retired last season– years after he hung up the skates and despite being on the outside looking in regarding Hockey Hall of Fame status, then there’s a chance the B’s overlook Cheevers’ sin and Thomas’ short tenure.

Nevertheless, both are Stanley Cup champion goaltenders and legends in their own right among Bruins fans around the Hub.

33 Zdeno Chara

The 2008-09 James Norris Trophy winner has played in 1,023 games in a Bruins uniform and amassed 148-333-481 totals in that span– so far. No, the 43-year-old defender and longest tenured captain in the National Hockey League is not done yet. 

Chara has indicated he’d like to go out on his own terms, whether that’s with another Cup under his belt or another full season– at least– if there’s ever another “normal” 82-game schedule again in the future.

In 1,553 career NHL games played for the Bruins (1,023 games), Ottawa Senators (299) and New York Islanders (231), Chara has 205 career goals and 451 career assists (656 points).

At 6-foot-9, he’s the tallest player in NHL history and though he might be tall in stature and a fierce competitor on the ice, Chara has a big heart off of it– taking charge in the annual pie donation at homeless shelters across Boston on American Thanksgiving, being one of the first You Can Play Project supporters and many other charitable efforts throughout the city, including, most recently, joining Black Lives Matter protests on the streets of Boston.

He joined the Bruins as a free agent on July 1, 2006, with Marc Savard as two centerpieces tasked with overhauling a floundering Original Six franchise on the ice and transforming the team into not only an annual playoff contender, but more popular than perhaps even the 1970s B’s teams throughout the New England region.

And even still, there’s some in the Bruins fan base that negate his workhorse effort, team leader mentality and humility.

Well, there was until he sustained a broken jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, then played in Game 5 on home ice with a cage and (presumably) in pain.

He’ll do anything to win another Cup since winning it with Boston nine years ago and ending the city’s 39-year Cup drought between raising Lord Stanley’s mug in 1972 and 2011.

37 Patrice Bergeron

Throughout the course of Bruins history there have been several individuals who have exemplified– with the utmost detail in every little thing they do– what it means to be a Bruin in Boston. 

Their names are Art Ross, Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron has spent his entire 16-year NHL career with Boston since being drafted by the Bruins in the second round (45th overall) in 2003. In 1,089 games, he’s scored 352 goals and amassed 517 assists for 869 career points. 

He’s also a member of the elusive Quadruple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup ring in 2011, two gold medals at the Winter Games for Canada in 2010 and 2014, a gold medal at the World Championship in 2004 and a gold medal at the World Junior Championship in 2005.

And if the Pentaple Gold Club was a thing, then Bergeron would be in that too– having been a member of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey championship winning Team Canada.

But enough about what he’s done away from the Bruins, eh.

If Schmidt was “Mr. Bruin”– or “The Ultimate Bruin” in his later years– then Bergeron is “Mr. Bruin Jr.” as the quintessential (likely) Bruin for life like how Schmidt lived and breathed (despite at one point coaching the Washington Capitals).

Bergeron recorded back-to-back 70-point seasons in his sophomore season and third NHL season, then suffered an almost career-ending– if not life threatening– concussion at the helm of Philadelphia Flyers defender, Randy Jones’ hit from behind just ten games into the 2007-08 season.

Bergeron’s season was cut short and his 2008-09 campaign was limited to 64 games when another concussion from a run-in with future teammate, then Carolina Hurricanes defender, Dennis Seidenberg, sidelined Bergeron for a duration of the season.

In 2011, Bergeron captured the Cup with Chara, Thomas and several other players who will be named in a moment that are possibly also deserving of the highest team honor in Boston– which raises a point about retired numbers in Bruins lore.

They come in bunches.

Nos. 2, 3 and 5 were all early pioneers of the franchise with No. 15 serving as a bridge between them and Nos. 4, 7 and 9. Then along came No. 24 before Nos. 8, 16 and 77 defined an era of Bruins hockey.

The same can be said for Nos. 33, 37, 40, 46 and perhaps 63 one day.

Anyway, No. 37 will go down in Boston sports history for more than a few reasons aside from his playoff overtime goals and everything else– he got better with age.

Bergeron turned in a career-high 79 points in 65 games played in 2018-19, and had 31-25–56 totals in 61 games up until the COVID-19 stoppage this season. He was on pace for 75 points had the regular season not met an abrupt end.

40 Tuukka Rask

No, Rask has “never won a Cup”. He has a Stanley Cup ring from 2011 and it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the engraver whether or not you were the starter or the backup when your name is etched into Lord Stanley’s mug.

Also, what hasn’t he done in Boston?

Rask has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy twice (which was the same number of times Thomas was a Vezina finalist) in his career, winning in 2013-14 and yet to be determined this season. 

Oh, plus he ranks 1st in Bruins franchise history in wins (Rask has 291, Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), games played (Rask has 536, Thompson is 2nd with 468), saves (Rask has 13,711, Eddie Johnston had 12,375), save percentage (among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin, Rask has a .922, Thomas had a .921) and goals against average (again, among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played, Rask has a 2.26, Byron Dafoe had a 2.30).

Rask also leads all Bruins goaltenders in franchise history in points with 15 (all assists, as no B’s netminder has ever scored a goal). Cheevers is second to Rask in points by a Boston goaltender with 11 assists.

Want to talk about the two most important trophies in the league?

Cheevers and the Bruins made four Stanley Cup Final appearances together, winning in 1970 and 1972, and losing in 1977 and 1978. Boston also finished first in the regular season standings in 1970-71 and 1971-72, which preceded the creation of the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986, but was done with Cheevers in net.

Thomas won the Cup and the Conn Smythe in his only Stanley Cup Final with the team in 2011, but never backstopped the team to a Presidents’ Trophy season.

Rask, meanwhile, earned a Cup ring on the 2010-11 roster, dragged his teammates to the 2013 and 2019 Stanley Cup Final and helped them to the franchise’s second and third Presidents’ Trophy seasons in 2013-14 and 2019-20.

The Bruins have never retired a goaltender’s jersey number, but they’d be crazy not to retire Rask’s when his playing career is over.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both Thomas and Rask won the William M. Jennings Trophy in their careers. Thomas shared the award with his backup, Manny Fernandez, in the 2008-09 season, while Rask won the award with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, this season.

Crazy, right?

46 David Krejci

Imagine for a moment, if you will, a player like Bergeron, but only quieter and better at making everyone around him better because he has a golden stick when it comes to passing. That player is Krejci.

Krejci has 38 assists fewer than Bergeron in 178 games less in his career so far. Bergeron has 517 assists in 1,089 games, while Krejci has 479 assists in 911 career NHL games. Both players have only ever played for Boston.

A second-half of the season player, Krejci emerges in peak performance from about February onward and crests his prime in the postseason. As long as the Bruins clinch a playoff berth, Krejci remains a dark horse threat for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

He had 23 points in 25 games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and improved that to 26 points in 22 games in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the run to his third Stanley Cup Final appearance, Krejci had 16 points across 24 games played through the seven-game series loss to the St. Louis Blues in 2019.

All of this is to say that Krejci is the other constant in the Bergeron-Chara Era (or is it really the Bergeron-Chara-Krejci Era?) and that he’s quietly amassed 207-479–686 totals in 911 career games with Boston from breaking into the league in the 2006-07 season through now.

Do not sleep on him. He deserves as much praise when all is said and done as some of the surefire players to have their jersey numbers retired when they hang up the skates.

63 Brad Marchand

Controversial? You got it.

But Terry O’Reilly has his jersey number hanging from the rafters of TD Garden, which means the “Little Ball of Hate” can get the same treatment as “Taz”.

Then there’s the fact that Marchand had 100 points last season in 79 games played– no, he did not miss any time due to any suspensions in 2018-19. He’s also had 85-points or more in the last four seasons dating back to 2016-17.

Since breaking into the league with a 20-game stint and only one assist in 2009-10, Marchand has gone on to amass 290-355–645 totals in 731 games from 2010-11 through the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season. That means he’s had 646 points in 751 career NHL games from the 2009-10 season through now.

After reaching 100 points last season in 79 games, Marchand had 87 points in 70 games this season. He was on pace for 102 points had the COVID-19 pandemic not interrupted those plans.

Instead of extending his four consecutive 30-goal seasons to five, Marchand finished short with 28 goals in 2019-20’s shortened regular season. He had a career-high 39 goals in 2016-17, and a career-high 64 assists last season.

Like Bergeron, Marchand appears to only be getting better with age and that’s only going to cement his status as an icon in Bruins franchise history. It might just be enough to push him over the edge and encourage Boston to hang his number from the rafters someday.

88 David Pastrnak

How did 24 other teams– yes fully acknowledging that some teams traded their picks to other teams that then had multiple picks in the first round before Boston selected 25th overall– pass over Pastrnak in the 2014 NHL Draft? How? 

In 390 career NHL games thus far, Pastrnak has 379 points. He has 180 goals and 199 assists in that span since breaking into the league in the 2014-15 season and not being sent back down to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

This season alone, Pastrnak had 48 goals in 70 games– tied for the league lead in goals scored with Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin– en route to sharing the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy and being the first Bruin in franchise history to have his name etched on that award named after the prolific Montreal Canadiens goal scorer from many years ago.

In fairness, the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy wasn’t a thing until the 1998-99 season, so B’s legends like Rick Middleton and Cam Neely never got a chance to win it (let alone Bobby Orr).

But Pastrnak is a star in his own right. He’s a star in the making that was on pace for 56 goals at the time of the stoppage and 111 points before the pandemic put an early end to the 2019-20 regular season.

Nevertheless, he set career-highs in goals (48), assists (47) and points (95) this season and has scored more goals than the prior season in four-consecutive seasons now (34 goals in 75 games in 2016-17, 35 goals in 82 games in 2017-18, 38 goals in 66 games in 2018-19 and 48 goals in 70 games in 2019-20).

As long as Pastrnak can stay healthy and maintain and/or elevate his play for the next four or five seasons, then he’ll see his jersey number in Boston’s rafters with their most recent prolific goal scorer with the last name “Neely”.

Final Thoughts

Since Chara created the current team culture, it’d be an insult to leave out any of the key core members of the last decade or so of Bruins hockey history. 

Sure, it might be a bit much to have so many jersey retirement nights upcoming and increasing the amount of jersey numbers taken out of circulation in Boston from 11 to upwards of at least 16, but to reiterate– the Bruins retire numbers in bunches.

These players define an era in B’s lore. These players are doing so as one unit– the way their current captain and perhaps greatest leader in the history of the team methodically designed, cultivated and produced the close-knit machine that is the Bruins organization on the ice and in the dressing room.

In a time with rightful public shaming and disgrace for not immediately stepping up and committing to help their employees in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these players stepped up out of their own volition to do something their owner wouldn’t do without being provoked.

The very least that owner can do to keep in good faith standing with the club’s alumni and current players destined for jersey retirement night ceremony glory, would be to honor this extraordinary group of gentlemen with class.

NHL Nick's Net

Why the Boston Bruins Might Never Retire No. 30

For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, the term “goalie controversy” often draws up images of people shouting at each other on Twitter about Tim Thomas vs. Tuukka Rask– yes, even to this day, despite the fact that 1) Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders in 2013 and 2) that he effectively retired after the 2013-14 season split between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars (he never announced his retirement officially, anyway). 

Both have a Stanley Cup ring to their names as they were members of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster, with Thomas leading the way to Boston’s first championship since 1972, while Rask was biding his time as the team’s backup before taking over as the full-time B’s starter since the 2012-13 season– racking up multiple franchise records in the process and two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019.

But this “goalie controversy” has nothing to do with the galaxy brain Thomas vs. Rask arguments on Twitter.

This is about the “controversial” debate that rages surrounding retiring No. 30 in Boston and the controversies that surround two of its most prominent Bruins to wear it.

When considering whether or not to retire a number in Bruins lore, first consider what other Original Six teams have done, since they’re the only comparable franchises with almost as many– if not more– years of history than Boston.

Then consider the fact that Boston has never retired a number for a goalie. For quick reference, retired numbers of goalies are in bold.

Boston Bruins retired numbers

  • 2 Eddie Shore
  • 3 Lionel Hitchman
  • 4 Bobby Orr
  • 5 “Dit” Clapper
  • 7 Phil Esposito
  • 8 Cam Neely
  • 9 Johnny Bucyk
  • 15 Milt Schmidt
  • 16 Rick Middleton
  • 24 Terry O’Reilly
  • 77 Ray Bourque

Chicago Blackhawks retired numbers

  • 1 Glenn Hall
  • 3 Keith Magnuson/Pierre Pilote
  • 9 Bobby Hull
  • 18 Denis Savard
  • 21 Stan Mikita
  • 35 Tony Esposito

Detroit Red Wings retired numbers

  • 1 Terry Sawchuk
  • 4 Red Kelly
  • 5 Nicklas Lidstrom
  • 7 Ted Lindsay
  • 9 Gordie Howe
  • 10 Alex Delvecchio
  • 12 Sid Abel
  • 19 Steve Yzerman

Montreal Canadiens retired numbers

  • 1 Jacques Plante
  • 2 Doug Harvey
  • 3 Emile Bouchard
  • 4 Jean Beliveau
  • 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe
  • 7 Howie Morenz
  • 9 Maurice Richard
  • 10 Guy Lafleur
  • 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore
  • 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach
  • 18 Serge Savard
  • 19 Larry Robinson
  • 23 Bob Gainey
  • 29 Ken Dryden
  • 33 Patrick Roy

New York Rangers retired numbers

  • 1 Eddie Giacomin
  • 2 Brian Leetch
  • 3 Harry Howell
  • 7 Rod Gilbert
  • 9 Andy Bathgate/Adam Graves
  • 11 Vic Hadfield/Mark Messier
  • 19 Jean Ratelle
  • 35 Mike Ritcher

Toronto Maple Leafs retired numbers

  • 1 Turk Broda/Johnny Bower
  • 4 Hap Day/Red Kelly
  • 5 Bill Barilko
  • 6 Irvine “Ace” Bailey
  • 7 King Clancy/Tim Horton
  • 9 Ted Kennedy/Charlie Conacher
  • 10 Syl Apps/George Armstrong
  • 13 Mats Sundin
  • 14 Dave Keon
  • 17 Wendell Clark
  • 21 Borje Salming
  • 27 Frank Mahovlich/Darryl Sittler
  • 93 Doug Gilmour

There’s not many retired goalie numbers among Original Six teams, let alone the rest of the NHL. Plus Boston hasn’t even retired No. 1 for Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and/or Frank Brimsek.

Next, think about Hockey Hall of Fame status, as well as career longevity (in Boston and outside of Boston).

Especially since there is no “Boston Bruins Hall of Fame” (which is a shame, really– they built The Hub on Causeway and they couldn’t dedicate more to team history/histories (if you include the NBA’s Boston Celtics) than just the entrance to the old Boston Garden standing inside of Banners Kitchen & Tap?).

Sure there’s The Sports Museum inside TD Garden, but the Montreal Canadiens have a Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame underneath Bell Centre. Your move, Mr. Jacobs.

Cam Neely– He didn’t play nearly enough games for his era due to Ulf Samuelsson, but Neely is a Hockey Hall of Fame member.

Rick Middleton– He played a lot, scored a ton, but Middleton isn’t a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Terry O’Reilly– He was like Milt Schmidt in that he did a lot for the Bruins organization (player and later coach), but O’Reilly isn’t a Hockey Hall of Fame member.

As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule and O’Reilly and Middleton are deservingly so in their own right.

Gerry Cheevers is a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. Tim Thomas is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. He’s still eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t gotten in and there’s no guarantees that he’ll make it.

Interestingly enough, however, while Thomas might never be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cheevers made it in 1985, but never won a Vezina (Thomas has two, 2008-09 and 2010-11) and was never named to an All-Star Team at season’s end (Thomas was named to two, 2008-09 and 2010-11).

Then think about how they left Boston.

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) came into fruition as a direct rival of the National Hockey League (NHL). The WHA promised better pay for players and the same– if not better– experience for fans.

It was created by a pair of American promoters who also made the American Basketball Association (ABA), which, if you’re a fan of basketball, you already know the ABA merger story with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA, 1976-present).

From the onset, the ABA was poised to one day merge with the NBA in its efforts for success a la the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) merger prior to the 1970 NFL season.

The WHA was all about what the NHL wasn’t about.

They wanted to capitalize on markets where hockey could flourish, but were otherwise overlooked by the NHL, as well as attract the best players in the game by paying more than what NHL teams would– especially attracting European talent whereas the NHL was stuck as a “North American” game at the time. 

Free agency was a new concept for professional sports in the 1970s and it reigned supreme in the emerging shift towards player’s rights and the evolution of players’ associations.

The NHL’s reserve clause at the time meant players couldn’t become the equivalent of today’s unrestricted free agent until they were 31-years-old. These days, there’s restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency, as well as one-way and two-way contracts to worry about, but that’s another topic for another day.

Cheevers left the Bruins for the WHA, which was deplorable in the eyes of the NHL back then as much as it is now. 

Though fans might have loved seeing the Cleveland Crusaders jerseys, NHL owners hated them. 

Though players loved making more money at a time when all the other major professional sports were seeing significant raises, NHL owners hated them. 

Though WHA franchises thought they’d be on the fast track to continuing operations in the NHL after the WHA ceased to exist, the NHL went all out to slash and burn the remnants of the WHA. 

Seriously though, when the WHA initiated discussions for a merger in 1977, NHL owners voted down a plan to merge six WHA teams into the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Cincinnati Stingers, Houston Aeros and Winnipeg Jets wanted out of a league that was hemorrhaging money and into the safe arms of the NHL and its tradition. 

By 1976, there were 32 major professional hockey teams between the NHL and WHA, which diluted the talent pool of a sport that was nowhere near the numbers of popularity and youth through junior league development as it is today.

When it came time to re-negotiate a merger in 1978, Houston was no longer in the plan, since the Aeros ended up having to fold.

The Indianapolis Racers folded in the middle of December 1978, which set the final nail in the merger. Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls would each be compensated to disband elsewhere, while Edmonton, New England, Quebec and Winnipeg would join the NHL at the WHA’s insistence.

Except it wasn’t that easy for the Oilers, Whalers, Nordiques and Jets. 

Each team would be stripped of its history– rendering them as NHL expansion teams for the start of the 1979-80 season, subject to expansion fees, an expansion draft and penalizing them by allowing NHL teams to reclaim players that jumped ship to the WHA.

Additionally, the Bruins petitioned the “New England Whalers” moniker, resulting in the Whalers having to drop “New England” in favor of “Hartford” since Boston didn’t want any confusion that the Whalers were playing on their turf (despite Massachusetts and Connecticut both being part of New England). 

The Bruins owned New England. 

That only strengthened the underdog status of the Whalers and the hatred between the two clubs in their Adams Division rivalry after realignment for the 1981-82 season (Hartford kicked things off in their NHL tenure in the Norris Division from 1979-81).

Anyway, back to Cheevers and his departure from the Hub.

After winning his second Cup with Boston in 1972, Cheevers jumped at the opportunity Cleveland created to make a lot more money than what the Bruins were offering their two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender. 

Cheevers lasted parts of three seasons as a Crusader from 1972-73 to 1975-76, when a financial dispute with Cleveland’s management resulted in Cheevers jumping back into the NHL fold with Boston in the middle of the 1975-76 season.

Since becoming a starting goaltender in the 1967-68 season through Boston’s 1971-72 Cup winning season, Cheevers amassed a 126-52-40 record in 221 games with a 2.72 goals against average and a .915 save percentage in that span, as well as 15 shutouts.

Prior to his departure from the Bruins for Cleveland, he had a career best 2.50 GAA and .920 SV% in 41 games in the 1971-72 season alone as a 31-year-old goaltender (he wouldn’t turn 32 until Dec. 7, 1972).

Though Cheevers returned in 1975-76, things never were really the same.

His WHA tenure racked up a 99-78-9 record in 191 career games for the Crusaders from 1972 through part of the 1975-76 season– with a 3.12 GAA and 14 shutouts in that span.

On Jan. 27, 1976, he returned to Boston as a free agent after being released by Cleveland– two days after the Crusaders suspended him for not showing up and refusing to play.

By that point, Cheevers was 35-years-old and finished off the 1975-76 NHL season with an 8-2-5 record, as well as a 2.74 GAA and a .900 SV% in 15 games played for the Bruins.

In his full seasons for Boston that followed from 1976-77 to his retirement after the 1979-80 season, Cheevers went 87-35-24 in 151 games, with a 2.96 GAA, an .878 SV% and nine shutouts in that span.

Though the emergence of Wayne Gretzky to the NHL scene may have shifted the offensive output across the league since 1979, Cheevers’ NHL playing days only coincided with Gretzky in Gretzky’s rookie season (1979-80).

Though Cheevers had a .524 winning percentage in his first NHL stint with Toronto (two games)  and Boston (250 games) from 1961-72 and a .572 winning percentage after his WHA days in 166 games with Boston from 1976-80, his goals against average and save percentage suffered dramatically from a 2.85 GAA and a .911 SV% in 1961-72 to a 2.94 GAA and an .880 SV% from 1976-80.

Of course, age and the inevitable “wall” that players hit at the twilight of their prime is likely a factor here.

Still, the fact remains the same.

Despite leading the Bruins as a head coach after his retirement as a player from 1980-85, his defection from the NHL to the WHA crushed his immediate chances at being honored for his work on the ice in a sweater with the spoked-B on the front and the No. 30 on the back.

And all these years later, he might still be paying for it.

Thomas, on the other hand, chose to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing a need for more connection to his faith, family and friends.

Though it’s certainly understandable these days, given the presumptive hell he must have gone through with all of his concussions and finding the love for the game again– albeit watching as a fan these days– since his retirement from the NHL after the 2013-14 season, Thomas’ 2012-13 plans weren’t the first time he angered the Bruins fanbase, let alone, Boston’s front office.

After winning the Cup in 2011, he skipped out on the team’s White House invitation— citing (to paraphrase) that both major political parties are at fault for the federal government’s overbearance on its citizens.

Other than that, there’s his staunch– if not, outlandish at times– political views that cannot be overlooked (his support for Chick-fil-A amidst the company’s anti-equal marriage stance) in a day and age where Hockey Is (supposed to be) For Everyone.

Like the rest of us, however, Thomas is human– complex, contradicting, well-defined and unique as an individual. We all struggle through our own cognitive dissonance through life. 

For some, his on-ice performance can be separated from what his private off-ice personal life ensues. 

For others, he might not be as high on the pedestal of Boston sports lore due to his complicated nature– one that contradicts research and the science behind traumatic brain injuries, therapy and experimental treatments with conspiracy theories related to climate change, among other things.

All of this begs the question “should there be a character component to retiring numbers,” which could lead to further discussion surrounding whether or not teams should permanently unretire numbers when legendary players don’t live up to being role models off the ice (see, Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes). 

Likewise, the same argument could be applied to hall of fame inductions, but both are discussions for another time.

But Thomas’ decision to sit out the 2012-13 season with one-year remaining on his contract and a $5.000 million cap hit in a time when Boston was built for contending for another Cup run while spending $8.500 million combined between Thomas and Tuukka Rask in the crease as the team sat uncomfortably below the salary cap at about $68.868 million out of the $70.200 million ceiling, struck a nerve with then General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, and Co.

Oh and to further add to the uncertainty, the league hit a lockout prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, which saw the usual 82-game schedule reduced to 48 games that season once play resumed in January.

On Feb. 7, 2013, the Bruins traded Thomas to the New York Islanders to free up much needed cap space in an attempt to re-sign Rask, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, Anton Khudobin, Jaromir Jagr and others in the 2013 offseason after losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

Only Rask remained as Ference’s free agent status priced himself out of Boston, Jagr was deemed “too old” (joke’s on them!) and Horton left for the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shroud of “word on the street” rumors. Khudobin, meanwhile, went to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $800,000 deal after Boston signed Chad Johnson for $200,000 less to be Rask’s backup for the 2013-14 season.

Thomas returned to the NHL for the 2013-14 season with the Florida Panthers after signing a one-year deal on Sept. 26, 2013, before later being traded to the Dallas Stars on March 5, 2014– one day after Florida re-acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks.

His comeback season didn’t go well (posting a 16-20-3 record, a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 40 games with the Panthers, as well as a 2-4-1 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .902 SV% in eight games with the Stars) and Thomas rode off into the sunset after Dallas was eliminated in six games in the 2014 First Round by the Anaheim Ducks.

The Bruins may let bygones be bygones and welcome Thomas with open arms for a “Tim Thomas Night” or special ceremony one day in the future, but it likely won’t be before Rask retires.

As it is, Thomas isn’t planning on traveling much outside of his Washington, D.C. appearance for his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Dec. 2019.

So, what goaltender could have their number retired by Boston?

If there’s one Bruins goaltender that will have his number retired sooner rather than later, it’s Rask.

His current contract expires at the end of next season and Rask has expressed he might retire, but he also might not.

There’s three probable options for Rask when all is said and done in 2021;

1) to sign a short term deal and remain with Boston for his entire NHL career,

2) to sign a contract elsewhere or

3) to retire– finishing his career as one of the greatest goaltenders in Bruins history as he currently ranks 1st in wins (291– Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), 1st in games played (536– Thompson is 2nd with 468), 1st in saves (13,711– Eddie Johnston is 2nd with 12,375), 1st in save percentage among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin (.922– Thomas is 2nd with a .921), 1st in goals against average among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played for Boston (2.26– Byron Dafoe is 2nd with a 2.30), 2nd in shutouts among goalies with a minimum 100 games played for Boston (50– Thompson leads with 74) and– as a bonus– Rask leads with the most points by a goaltender with the Bruins (15, all assists– Cheevers is 2nd with 11, also all assists).

That’s no slouch and not just a result of suiting up in a bunch of games for one team without any real success whatsoever.

That same 2011 Stanley Cup championship year for the Bruins?

Rask was part of that.

Doesn’t matter if you’re the starter or the backup when your name goes on the Cup for a job well done as one of the best goaltending tandems that season. Besides, in today’s NHL, there’s an ever increasing importance for a 1A/1B solution in the crease.

Rask also backstopped the team to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances since then in 2013 and 2019.

He also won the Vezina Trophy in 2014 and was likely on track to pick up his second Vezina this season– number of games played compared to his peers, like Andrei Vasilevskiy, be damned– at its pause due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SV%, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games played.

No. 40 in black and gold led the NHL in goals against average this season and was second in save percentage, while sharing second place in shutouts with five.

Whether he wins this season’s Vezina Trophy or not, he’ll still have a consolation prize shared with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, as the duo won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season as the goaltender(s) that have played a minimum of 25 games in a season for the team(s) with the fewest goals scored against it.

Rask and Halak allowed 174 goals this season in 70 games played, whereas Ben Bishop and Khudobin allowed 177 goals against for the Stars in 69 games.

This season’s hardware is Rask’s first Jennings Trophy win and Halak’s second career Jennings honors after previously sharing the title with Brian Elliott in the 2011-12 season with the Blues.

As for Rask’s jersey retirement case, it helps that he is tied for the best save percentage in league history (.922) with Dominik Hasek and 11th overall in the NHL’s all-time goals against averages with a 2.26 in his career.

Oh and the B’s have won the Presidents’ Trophy twice with Rask in the crease (2013-14 and 2019-20), something Thomas never did in his tenure with Boston and Cheevers could never do, since the award wasn’t presented for the first time until the 1985-86 season.

It’s possible the Bruins retire No. 40 before they make up for lost time and retire No. 30 for two players, like how the Toronto Maple Leafs retired No. 1 twice (Turk Broda and Johnny Bower).

After all, if you’re worried about running out of numbers that are typically used by a goaltender, Nos. 1, 29, 31, 35, 45 and any other number that isn’t already or won’t be retired by the time Boston gets around to retiring a goaltender’s jersey number (assuming the B’s retire No. 33 for Zdeno Chara, No. 37 for Patrice Bergeron, No. 46 for David Krejci and perhaps No. 63 and No. 88 by that time) will still be available.

NHL Nick's Net

Bruins beat Red Wings, 4-1

The Boston Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon– marking their first win against the the Red Wings in their last six regular season meetings.

Tuukka Rask (22-5-6 record, 2.08 goals against average, .931 save percentage in 34 games played) made 25 saves on 26 shots against for a .962 SV% in the win for the B’s.

Red Wings goaltender, Jonathan Bernier (12-17-2, 2.90 GAA, .908 SV% in 35 games played), stopped 37 out of 41 shots faced for a .902 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 36-11-12 (84 points) and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Detroit fell to 14-42-4 (32 points) and remained stuck in last place in the Atlantic.

The Bruins also improved to 21-2-9 at home this season, while Bruce Cassidy picked up his 200th career win as an NHL head coach. He is 153-63-34 in 250 games as Boston’s head coach.

Also of note, David Krejci suited up in his 900th career NHL game on Saturday and became the 7th Bruin in franchise history to play in 900 games or more.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Saturday, while Par Lindholm, John Moore and Anton Blidh served as the only healthy scratches for the B’s.

Cassidy made one change to his lineup, replacing Moore on the blue line with Jeremy Lauzon– back from his two-game suspension and fresh off a two-year extension that goes into effect next season worth $850,000 per season.

Gustav Lindstrom kicked things off with a holding minor 2:25 into the first period, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon.

In fact, while on the skater advantage, Boston allowed a short handed goal against as Darren Helm (9) poked in a rebound that Rask tried to clear, but fumbled at 3:12.

Helm’s goal was unassisted and gave Detroit a, 1-0, lead as the opponent scored the game’s first goal for the 16th time this season at TD Garden.

Late in the opening frame, Adam Erne cross checked Chris Wagner and was sent to the penalty box at 18:28, but the Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing power play– even as it extended into the second period.

After one period of play, the Red Wings led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite the fact that the B’s led in shots on goal, 18-6.

Detroit held the advantage in blocked shots (5-0), takeaways (4-2) and hits (12-10), while Boston led in giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (63-37).

The Red Wings had yet to see any time on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play entering the first intermission.

Midway through the middle frame, Charlie McAvoy (2) scooped up a rebound that rolled all the way to the point and worked his way into the slot before snapping a shot below Bernier’s blocker– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

McAvoy’s goal was unassisted at 8:01 of the second period and kicked off a run of three goals in a 4:29 span for Boston.

Krejci hooked Andreas Athanasiou at 8:25 and presented Detroit with their first power play of the game, but the Red Wings were powerless on the power play and allowed a short handed goal against instead.

While short handed, Brad Marchand worked the puck deep into the attacking zone before dropping a pass back to Patrice Bergeron (25) while No. 37 in black and gold broke into the slot, deked and scored a backhand goal while Bernier dropped to a hybrid stance.

Marchand (49) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins led for the first time of the afternoon, 2-1, at 9:40 of the second period with a pair of goals in a 1:39 span.

Almost a few minutes later, McAvoy ripped a shot from the point that Charlie Coyle (13) tipped in from the slot to give Boston a two-goal lead.

McAvoy (21) and Danton Heinen (15) notched the assists on the goal and the Bruins led, 3-1, at 12:30.

Less than a minute after Coyle’s goal, Lauzon was called for interference against Christoffer Ehn at 13:10 and yielded a power play to Detroit, but once more the Red Wings power play couldn’t put it together.

Late in the period, McAvoy was sent to the box for holding against Robby Fabbri at 18:12. Detroit did not score on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Saturday, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 30-14, in shots on goal. Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (60-40), while Detroit led in hits (21-20).

Both teams had five blocked shots and five takeaways aside, while the Red Wings were 0/3 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Midway through the third period, Marchand dangled around Athanasiou while entering the attacking zone and sent a pass to David Pastrnak (42) for a one-timer that beat Bernier and extended Boston’s lead to three-goals.

Marchand (50) amassed his 50th assist of the season on Pastrnak’s goal, which established a new career-high in points (82) for Pastrnak and the third consecutive season of 50 or more assists for Marchand.

Pastrnak’s goal made it, 4-1, for the Bruins at 13:03 of the third period.

A few minutes later, while battling in the corner in Boston’s own zone, Athanasiou delivered a quick shove to Wagner’s face, which led to Wagner dropping the gloves and engaging Athanasiou in a fight at 16:39.

Both players received five-minute majors for fighting and an early exit from the game as a result.

At the final horn, the Bruins defeated the Red Wings, 4-1, and emerged victorious with the advantage in shots on goal (41-26), blocked shots (10-6) and faceoff win% (64-36).

Detroit finished the afternoon leading in hits (30-27), while both teams amassed five giveaways aside.

The Red Wings finished the game 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/2.

Rask improved to 14-0-6 at TD Garden this season, which is the best point streak at home to start a season in Bruins franchise history and tied Tiny Thompson’s franchise record for the longest home point streak overall.

Thompson had a 20-0-0 span in the 1929-30 season for Boston.

The Bruins improved to 6-4-3 when trailing after one period and 21-1-6 when leading after two periods this season with the win.

Boston begins a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers on Sunday, Edmonton Oilers next Wednesday (Feb. 19th), Calgary Flames next Friday (Feb. 21st) and Vancouver Canucks next Saturday (Feb. 22nd).

NHL Nick's Net

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Final Preview

If you didn’t learn your lesson from the First Round to the Second Round, hopefully you’ve learned it by now, because their is no “Third Chance Bracket”.

Yes, it’s time for the Conference Finals in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, ladies and gentlemen, and this year in the Eastern Conference it’s an old Adams Division rivalry matchup.

A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs EWC1 Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, 99 points)

The Boston Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the First Round for the second year in-a-row, then went on to defeat John Tortorella and his pesky Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the Second Round after turning more than a few heads during the regular season for their resolve during periods of injury.

The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t beat the Washington Capitals at any point in the regular season, but forced the defending Stanley Cup champions to a decisive Game 7– and won– to punch their ticket to the Second Round, then the Canes swept the New York Islanders.

Don Cherry labeled the Hurricanes as a “bunch of jerks” for their post-win celebrations in the regular season. People from Massachusetts are sometimes referred to as “Massholes”– especially when they get talking about their sports teams.

For the first time since 2009, Carolina made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That same postseason, these two organizations collided in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It was just the second time the Hurricanes went head-to-head in the playoffs with Boston since relocating from Hartford, where the Whalers went 0-2 in their postseason series lifetime against the B’s in the days of the Adams Division.

The Bruins eliminated the Canes in six games in 1999.

Ten years later, Carolina eliminated the B’s on road ice– in overtime– in a Game 7. Scott Walker scored the infamous goal after sucker punching former Hurricane defender, Aaron Ward earlier in the series.

Though this will only be the fifth time both clubs have met each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, these teams don’t like each other.

Marcus Johansson suffered a lung contusion after Micheal Ferland delivered a check days after Johansson was acquired by the Bruins at the trade deadline in March.

If that wasn’t “old time hockey” enough for you, Carolina was wearing their throwback Whalers sweaters at TD Garden that evening.

The Bruins came back from a two-goal deficit to win in overtime in that game.

Earlier in the season, the Hurricanes donned their Hartford Whalers throwbacks for “Whalers Night” at PNC Arena on Dec. 23rd and both clubs swapped goals until Carolina came out on top– for once in a Hartford sweater– in a whale’s tale of a regular season battle.

Though the Bruins hold a 3-1 advantage in all-time series matchups with the Hurricanes (including their two meetings while still in Hartford), this isn’t your father’s Whalers/Hurricanes.

Rod Brind’Amour is back (remember him?)– this time as the head coach of the team he won the Stanley Cup with in 2006.

When Brind’Amour makes a lineup change, though it may be rare, it’s deliberate. Hell, Greg McKegg had the series clinching goal in the Second Round.

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, will have to keep adapting throughout each game– let alone the series– as he traditionally has since taking over behind the bench for the B’s in Feb. 2017.

Boston has been looking for the right amount of scoring touch for the last few seasons and General Manager, Don Sweeney, made sure to add without subtracting for this season’s deep run.

Third line center, Charlie Coyle, has proven to fit in just fine with the Bruins’ brass and Johansson even had a goal in Game 6 against Columbus.

Neither of those players were on the roster at the beginning of February, but by the end of it, Sweeney had dealt Ryan Donato and a draft pick to the Minnesota Wild for Coyle, as well as draft picks to the New Jersey Devils for Johansson to assure himself of some much needed– coveted even– depth in the bottom-six.

Secondary scoring hasn’t been a problem in this postseason run for the Bruins.

Coyle is tied for 4th on the roster in points this postseason with 5-3–8 totals in 13 games, while Johansson has chipped in two goals and three assists (five points) in 11 games played.

Former Hurricane, Joakim Nordstrom, and Dublin, Ohio native, Sean Kuraly, each have a pair of goals in 12 and nine games played, respectively.

Leading the way in the top-six forwards, Brad Marchand has 5-8–13 totals in 13 games played. His teammate on the first line, David Pastrnak is starting to get his hot hands back and enters the Eastern Conference Final with six goals and five assists (11 points) in 13 games.

Usual playoff performers, David Krejci (4-6–10 totals in 13 games) and Patrice Bergeron (5-3–8 totals in 13 games) are right where you’d expect them to be at this time of the year.

Krejci is three points shy of 100 career Stanley Cup Playoff points (all with the Bruins) and had the game-winning, series clinching, goal at Nationwide Arena in Monday’s, 3-0, shutout over the Blue Jackets.

Speaking of shutouts, Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask is on fire lately. Rask is 8-5 with a 2.02 goals against average and .938 save percentage in 13 games played this postseason.

He also just tied Tiny Thompson and Tim Thomas for the 2nd most postseason shutouts in Bruins franchise history with his 6th career Stanley Cup Playoff shutout against Columbus in Game 6.

Gerry Cheevers holds the franchise record with eight postseason shutouts in his time wearing a black-and-gold sweater.

Though the B’s will be without Charlie McAvoy for Game 1 (McAvoy will be serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head against Josh Anderson in Game 6 against Columbus), Torey Krug (1-7–8 totals) still knows how to move the puck around– especially on Boston’s special teams opportunities.

In addition, the postseason emergence of workhorse, Brandon Carlo, on the blue line has solidified an already stable, experienced, defense with 42-year-old captain, Zdeno Chara (a plus-nine rating through 13 games) leading from his own zone.

But Carolina has a workhorse of their own– with more offensive skill than Carlo. Jaccob Slavin has 11 assists from the point this postseason in 11 games.

No other defenders have had as many assists as Slavin in Whalers/Hurricanes postseason history.

Slavin also leads his team in scoring, while forwards, Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho and are tied for 2nd place on the roster in postseason scoring– each player has nine points through 11 games of Carolina’s 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff run.

Teravainen leads his team in goals with six so far this postseason, but newcomer Foegele is hot on his tail with five goals and a team-best 31.3 shooting percentage.

Hurricanes General Manager, Don Waddell, didn’t need to add much during the season, but it certainly helped that he was able to flip Victor Rask for Nino Niederreiter, who’s been a versatile addition up-and-down the lineup when Brind’Amour has called his name.

Bringing back a little familiarity in July 2017 didn’t hurt either, as “Mr. Game 7” himself and pending-UFA, Justin Williams, not only reached 100 career playoff points in Game 4 against the Islanders, but has helped lift Carolina over their playoff opponents with 3-3–6 totals in 11 games.

On defense, former Bruin Dougie Hamilton has three goals and four assists (seven points) in 11 games with the Canes this postseason. He leads his fellow defenders in goals, but trails Slavin in points thus far.

Though Carolina looks to be a top-heavy team on paper, their entire lineup was able to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in the First Round and limit New York to five goals in four games in the Second Round.

Nobody prevents goals against as a last resort more than a goaltender and the Hurricanes have gotten everything they’ve needed and more from their goaltending duo of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney this season.

Mrazek (5-3, 2.22 GAA, .913 SV% in nine games played this postseason) got the Canes past the Capitals in the First Round and went down with a lower body injury in Game 2 against the Isles last round.

That’s where McElhinney (3-0, 1.56 GAA, .947 SV% in three games played this postseason) stepped up and got the job done in relief in Game 2 against New York and as the oldest goaltender to make his first career start in Stanley Cup Playoff history at the age of 35 in Game 3 on home ice against the Islanders.

Brind’Amour doesn’t want to rush Mrazek if he is not 100% and could very well keep going with the upper hand of McElhinney for the time being against Boston to start the series.

The Bruins led the season series 2-1-0, however, regular season success only means so much for the playoffs. Home ice is a great thing, sure, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are an entirely different animal when it comes to predictions based on season performance.

When the Hurricanes beat the Bruins, 5-3, on Dec. 23rd in Carolina, Boston went on to lose to New Jersey on Dec. 27th in regulation.

The B’s did not lose consecutive games in regulation until they lost three games in-a-row on the road from March 10-14th (4-2 loss to PIT on March 10th, 7-4, loss to CBJ on March 12th and a, 4-3, loss to WPG on March 14th).

Since Jan. 1st, Boston went 28-10-5 to finish off the regular season, while the Hurricanes went 31-11-2 from Jan. 1st until the dawn of the postseason.

Both teams have been hot since the turn of the calendar year. There’s no reason why either of them don’t deserve to have made it this far in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately, one of them will have to lose in order for the other to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Boston is poised to utilize their roster that’s full of playoff experience, while Carolina is certain to try to continue to their underdog story.

That said, the Bruins are taking the series in six games and heading back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT BOS at TD Garden on March 5th, 5-3 CAR at PNC Arena on Dec. 23rd, 3-2 BOS at PNC Arena on Oct. 30th


5/9- Game 1 CAR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

5/12- Game 2 CAR @ BOS 3 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

5/14- Game 3 BOS @ CAR 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

5/16- Game 4 BOS @ CAR 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

5/18- Game 5 CAR @ BOS 7:15 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

5/20- Game 6 BOS @ CAR 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS*

5/22- Game 7 CAR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVAS*

*If necessary

Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bruins shutout Blue Jackets, 3-0, advance to 2019 Eastern Conference Final

For the first time since 2013, the Boston Bruins are heading to the Eastern Conference Final after a, 3-0, shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Game 6 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round series.

Boston will host the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final after Tuukka Rask (8-5 record, 2.02 goals against average, .938 save percentage in 13 games played this postseason) made 39 saves on 39 shots against to record his 6th career postseason shutout and tie Tiny Thompson and Tim Thomas for the 2nd-most Stanley Cup Playoff shutouts in Bruins franchise history.

Gerry Cheevers leads the club with eight postseason shutouts in his career with the B’s.

Blue Jackets goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky (6-4, 2.41 GAA, .925 SV% in 10 games played this postseason) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced in the loss.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, kept his lineup the same from Game 5 to Game 6, while John Moore (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) sat out due to injury.

Once again, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches included, Lee Stempniak, Zachary Senyshyn, Jordan Szwarz, Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zane McIntyre, Paul Carey, Ryan Fitzgerald, Steven Kampfer, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Early in the opening frame of the game, Pierre-Luc Dubois went hard into Rask and was assessed with a goaltender interference minor penalty. Boston went on the power play for the first time of the night at 6:46 of the first period.

Seconds after Columbus killed off Dubois’ minor, the Bruins thought they had a goal when Sean Kuraly appeared to pocket the puck in the open twine.

However, Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella used his coach’s challenge to send the call on the ice to a review, in which it was determined that Joakim Nordstrom was not pushed into Bobrovsky by a Columbus defender and instead had collided with the Columbus goaltender by his own merit.

As a result, the call on the ice was overturned. No goal.

The game remained tied, 0-0, heading into the first intermission with the B’s leading in shots on goal, 12-10.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (3-2) and face-off win percentage (60-40). Meanwhile, Columbus led in blocked shots (5-1) and hits (24-8). Both teams had one takeaway each and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.

David Pastrnak tripped up Cam Atkinson and was sent to the penalty box at 2:42 of the second period as the Blue Jackets went on the skater advantage for the first time Monday night.

Columbus did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the period, Brad Marchand slashed the stick of Seth Jones and was sent to the box with a slashing minor at 9:22 of the second period.

The Blue Jackets didn’t capitalize on their second power play of the game and the Bruins took advantage of the vulnerable minute after special teams play.

Jake DeBrusk rang the crossbar and David Krejci (4) blasted the rebound under Bobrovsky’s blocker to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 12:13.

DeBrusk (3) and Connor Clifton (2) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal.

In the final minute of the period, Charlie McAvoy charged Josh Anderson along the boards and led with his shoulder directly into the head of the Columbus forward.

McAvoy received a two-minute minor for an illegal hit to the head at 19:40, leaving fans inside the arena, at bars and on their couches at home confused as to why it was not a five-minute major infraction.

Regardless, McAvoy should expect to receive a phone call from the NHL Department of Player Safety, at the very least. Warnings can still be a thing, even if a player can or cannot be suspended.

Anderson did return from the second intermission for the third period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailed, 27-17, in shots on goal after the Blue Jackets had a, 17-5, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Columbus also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-7) and hits (36-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (6-5) and face-off win% (53-48) after two periods.

Both teams had four takeaways aside. The Blue Jackets were 0/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.

Though they had a few shots on net while McAvoy was in the box with time remaining on his penalty to start the third period, Columbus did not score on the power play.

Nordstrom slashed Dubois at 4:48 of the third period and sent the Blue Jackets back on the power play early in the final frame of regulation.

Once again, the Blue Jackets failed to hit the back of the twine on the skater advantage.

A little over a couple of minutes after killing Nordstrom’s penalty, Boston’s bottom-six forwards went to work and hooked up Marcus Johansson (2) with a quick break-in and shot that popped off Bobrovsky and carried itself over the goal line with just enough momentum on the puck.

Johaonsson’s goal was assited by Charlie Coyle (3) and Danton Heinen (4) as the Bruins took a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 8:58 of the third period.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci worked a pass to Torey Krug, whereby Krug turned and flung the puck towards David Backes (1) for the redirection past the Columbus goaltender and the, 3-0, lead.

Krug (7) and Krejci (6) were tabbed with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 10:39.

As a result of his two-point effort in Game 6, Krejci is now three points shy of 100 career Stanley Cup Playoff points (all with Boston). He’s seeking to become the 5th Bruin to reach 100 postseason points with the franchise.

With no other choice but to pull his goaltender for an extra attacker, Tortorella exercised his right with 3:30 remaining in regulation, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t maintain enough offensive zone pressure to muster a comeback.

Nor could the Bruins tally an empty net goal, but by the final horn none of that mattered.

Boston had defeated Columbus, 3-0, in Game 6 and won the series 4-2.

The B’s finished Monday night leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the Blue Jackets gave their home crowd a solid performance– despite the loss– leading in shots on goal (39-29), giveaways (10-7), hits (43-19) and face-off win% (51-49).

You can’t say Columbus didn’t try.

Neither team scored a goal on the skater advantage in Game 6 as the Blue Jackets went 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins went 0/1.

The Bruins improved to 8-0 when leading after two periods this postseason as Rask picked up his first Stanley Cup Playoff shutout since 2014.

For the first time since they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, Boston will host the Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.

Carolina last appeared in the Eastern Conference Final in 2009 and lost in four games to the Penguins.

But that same Hurricanes team also defeated the Bruins in their last series matchup in seven games in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Scott Walker had the series clinching goal in overtime against Thomas to lift the Canes over the B’s, 3-2, at the then branded TD Banknorth Garden in Game 7 of that series.

Boston holds a 3-1 series record all-time against the Hurricanes including two postseason matchups with the Hartford Whalers before they relocated to North Carolina in 1997.