NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes advance to Second Round in Game 7 victory over Boston

19,513 fans watched the Carolina Hurricanes advance to the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in Game 7 of their First Round series at PNC Arena Saturday afternoon.

Max Domi scored a pair of goals in the win as the Hurricanes entertained their largest crowd in franchise history, surpassing that of their 2019 Second Round series sweep of the New York Islanders in Game 4.

Carolina awaits the winner of the New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins series (Game 7 is Sunday with the series tied 3-3).

Meanwhile, Boston heads into a long offseason filled with decisions to make on their own amid a waiting game regarding the playing future of captain, Patrice Bergeron, as the 36-year-old is wrapping up his 18th National Hockey League season and is a pending-unrestricted free agent this summer.

Bergeron indicated before the 2021-22 season began that he wouldn’t negotiate a new contract in season and is likely to begin signing one-year deals as he enters the twilight of his career, though opting to retire altogether remains an option.

After 400 goals and 582 assists (982 points) in 1,216 career regular season games, as well as 49 goals and 78 assists (127 points) in 167 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Bergeron has certainly had quite the career.

He won a Stanley Cup ring in 2011 (scoring the game-winning goal in a, 4-0, win in Game 7 in Vancouver), could very well take home an NHL record fifth Frank J. Selke Trophy this season, is a member of the Triple Gold Club– and even more elusive Quadruple Gold Club and/or Quintuple Gold Club, depending on how you take into account World Junior Championships and World Cup of Hockey titles– and most importantly, is a loving husband and father to his wife and three children.

After Saturday’s loss, Bergeron gave no indication as to whether he would play next season or retire as it’s much too soon to rush to any decision.

Antti Raanta (3-2, 2.37 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in five games played) delivered a 27-save performance on 29 shots faced in the win for the Hurricanes, while Jeremy Swayman (3-2, 2.64 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in five games played) made 28 saves on 31 shots against in the loss for the Bruins.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, fell to 36-37 in 73 Stanley Cup Playoff games behind the bench with Boston as head coach since taking over in Feb. 2017, as well as 38-41 in 79 postseason games all time with Boston (2017-present) and Washington (2003).

The B’s went 3-0 on home ice in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and failed to record a win in four road games this postseason.

Saturday also marked the 13th career Game 7 for Bergeron, moving him to a tie for the second-most Game 7 appearances by a player in their NHL career with Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens.

Bergeron, Roy and Stevens trail Zdeno Chara for the overall record (14).

Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) remained out of the lineup for Boston due to injuries, while Cassidy made no changes to his lineup from Game 6’s, 5-2, victory in Boston to Game 7 in Raleigh.

The B’s had a long list of healthy scratches and expanded playoff roster components on Saturday, including Chris Wagner, Jack Studnicka, Marc McLaughlin, Steven Fogarty, Troy Grosenick, Josh Brown, Joona Koppanen, Matt Grzelcyk, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Tyler Lewington, Oskar Steen, Nick Wolff, Anton Blidh, Kyle Keyser and Jakub Lauko.

Early in the opening frame, Craig Smith made a high hit on Anthony DeAngelo and was assessed a roughing infraction as a result, but rather than presenting Carolina with their first power play opportunity of the afternoon, Vincent Trocheck got in Smith’s face and also picked up a roughing minor.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 as a result at 4:42 of the first period.

A few minutes later, however, Derek Forbort, was penalized for holding and yielded the first power play of the game to the Hurricanes at 7:41 of the first period.

Carolina failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, though.

Midway through the first, Connor Clifton tripped Andrei Svechnikov and Brett Pesce caught Taylor Hall with a high stick on the delayed call.

As a result, Clifton and Pesce each went to the box at 10:48 and yielded another pair of minutes at 4-on-4 for both clubs.

Late in the period, Domi shoveled a shot pass to Teuvo Teräväinen (2) in the slot for the redirection to make it, 1-0, Carolina– giving the Hurricanes the first goal in six out of seven games in the series.

Domi (3) and Jaccob Slavin (5) had the assists on Teräväinen’s goal at 18:36 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, DeAngelo took a high stick from Hall and drew blood, resulting in a four-minute double-minor infraction on the Bruins forward and a lengthy power play for the Canes at 19:02.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins, 11-10, in shots on goal.

Carolina held the advantage in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (6-3) and hits (12-10), while Boston led in giveaways (6-3).

Both teams went, 50-50, in faceoff win percentage after one period, while only the Hurricanes had seen any time on the power play and were 0-for-2 heading into the middle frame.

The Canes had about 3:03 remaining on the skater advantage to begin the second period, however.

Boston somehow managed to kill off Hall’s double-minor, then promptly gave up a goal in the vulnerable minute after special teams play as a shot from Jordan Staal bounced off of Hampus Lindholm’s leg right to where Domi (1) was heading before guiding the loose puck into the twine behind Swayman.

Staal (3) and Brady Skjei (1) tallied the assists as a result and the Hurricanes took a, 2-0, lead at 3:14 of the second period.

Less than a couple minutes later, Carolina won a faceoff in their own zone but couldn’t get through the neutral zone as Charlie McAvoy made a play to steal the puck and move it up to Bergeron as the Bruins re-entered the attacking zone.

Bergeron spun and flung a pass intended for McAvoy as the B’s defender pinched in from the point, but the puck was just a touch too hot to handle as McAvoy instead deflected it towards the high slot where Jake DeBrusk (2) gathered a quick shot over Raanta’s glove side– cutting Carolina’s lead in half in the process.

McAvoy (4) and Bergeron (4) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal and Boston trailed, 2-1, at 5:04 of the second period as a result.

Midway through the middle frame, however, the Hurricanes answered and re-extended their lead to two-goals.

After Trent Frederic rang the iron in the other end, the Canes worked the puck deep into their attacking zone before Teräväinen worked a pass to Domi (2) for a one-timer goal.

Teräväinen (5) and Slavin (6) notched the assists on Domi’s second goal of the game and the Hurricanes took a, 3-1, lead at 10:33 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, Carolina led, 3-1, and was in control with a, 21-18, advantage in shots on goal, including an, 11-7, advantage in the second period alone.

The Hurricanes also led in blocked shots (13-4), takeaways (11-4) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Bruins led in giveaways (14-6) and hits (27-24).

Carolina was 0-for-3 on the power play, while Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Brendan Smith sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game minor at 13:33 of the third period.

The Bruins promptly went 6-for-29 on the power play this postseason as they failed to convert on skater advantage while Smith was in the box.

With 2:55 remaining in the action, Carolina thought they scored though the call on the ice was “no goal” and video review was inconclusive, thereby rendering the call on the ice as canon.

With 2:41 left in the game, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker.

Boston tried and tried, but they couldn’t establish zone time for long enough until a pass that was almost intercepted shattered the stick blade of a Hurricanes defender and bounced off the far boards.

Hall worked the puck to McAvoy before McAvoy setup David Pastrnak (3) for the one-timer blast on Raanta’s blocker side to bring the Bruins to within one with 21.7 seconds remaining.

McAvoy (5) and Hall (2) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as Boston trailed, 3-2, and used their timeout at 19:39 of the third period.

They didn’t have enough to muster an improbable tie to end regulation, however, despite several attempts in the dying seconds.

At the final horn, the Hurricanes had won, 3-2, and clinched the series in seven games, 4-3.

Carolina left their own ice leading in shots on goal, 31-29, despite Boston outshooting the Canes, 11-10, in the third period alone.

The Hurricanes finished Saturday’s effort leading in blocked shots (16-14) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Bruins left PNC Arena leading in giveaways (18-11) and hits (40-35).

Neither team managed to score a power-play goal in Game 7 as the Hurricanes went 0-for-3 and the Bruins went 0-for-1 on the skater advantage.

Boston fell to 2-27 when trailing a best-of-seven series 2-0.

The B’s also fell to 15-14 in 29 Game 7 appearances, as well as 1-5 in six Game 7 appearances on the road.

The Canes, meanwhile, improved to 6-3 in nine Game 7 appearances overall, as well as 3-0 in three Game 7 matchups on home ice and 6-0 in a Game 7 since relocating from Hartford.

The Hurricanes advanced to the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs after eliminating the Bruins in seven games.

This will be Carolina’s second appearance in the Second Round in as many years which is a first in franchise history— dating back to their time as the Hartford Whalers from 1979-97.

NHL Nick's Net

Bruins defeat Islanders, 6-3, in final meeting this season

Ten players for the Boston Bruins recorded at least a point in their, 6-3, rout of the New York Islanders Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, while Linus Ullmark made 24 saves on 27 shots against in the win.

Ullmark improved to 20-9-2 overall with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 31 games this season for Boston.

New York goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (6-13-2, 2.82 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 38 out of 44 shots faced in the loss.

At least for the rest of the afternoon until the Toronto Maple Leafs were in action Saturday night, the Bruins moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with a 41-19-5 record and 87 points on the season.

The Islanders, meanwhile, fell to 28-26-9 (65 points) and remained in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.

New York won the regular season series against Boston 2-1-0 after the Bruins lost their first two meetings at UBS Arena earlier this season.

The B’s went 3-3-2 against the Isles last season and 2-0-1 against New York in 2019-20.

Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup Saturday afternoon after missing the last four games due to an elbow ailment that Bruins doctors did not want to end up becoming infected.

He returned to his usual role as the first line center and team captain, while participating in his 1,200th career National Hockey League game since making his league debut with Boston in the 2003-04 season.

Drafted in the second round (45th overall) by the Bruins in 2003, the L’Ancienne-Lorette, Québec native has 392-571–963 totals in his 1,200 games played, including an assist in Saturday’s win.

Bergeron ranks third in Bruins history in games played, trailing Ray Bourque (1,518 games) and Johnny Buyck (1,436) for the most and second-most all-time.

He is the 120th player in NHL history to reach the 1,200-game plateau and 22nd player to do so with the same team.

Jakub Zboril (right ACL) remained out of the lineup due to injury, while Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes, rendering Mike Reilly, Jack Studnicka, Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown and Anton Blidh as healthy scratches on Saturday.

Brandon Carlo sent a shot with purpose towards Craig Smith’s blade whereby No. 12 in black and gold watched as the puck exploded off his stick and caromed off the boards behind the net as an automatic rebound machine.

Smith (15) then buried the rebound and gave Boston a, 1-0, lead at 4:03 of the first period, while Carlo (8) and Charlie Coyle (24) tallied the assists on the goal.

About midway in the opening frame, Kyle Palmieri knocked down a shot attempt from the point and bounced the puck over Ullmark’s glove side as a result of the deflection.

There was one problem, however, the would-be goal was under official review at 11:46 of the first period as the on-ice officials were checking to see if Palmieri had played the puck with a high stick prior to the goal.

After review it was determined that the puck had been played above the crossbar and thus negated the goal and reversed the call on the ice.

Boston was still ahead, 1-0, and the Islanders had yet to score.

Moments later, Anthony Beauvillier hooked Tomáš Nosek and presented the Bruins with their first chance on the power play of the afternoon at 16:02.

The B’s were unsuccessful on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly after killing off Beauvillier’s infraction, however, New York was back on the penalty kill as Andy Greene tripped Nick Foligno at 19:19 of the opening frame.

It didn’t take Boston long to capitalize on the power play as they won the ensuing attacking zone faceoff and worked the puck back to Charlie McAvoy at the point.

McAvoy sent a shot towards the net that Taylor Hall (14) redirected from point blank on the glove side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

McAvoy (33) and Brad Marchand (36) notched the assists on Hall’s power-play goal as the Bruins extended their lead, 2-0, at 19:26 of the first period.

21 seconds later, however, the Islanders cut Boston’s lead in half after Zdeno Chara rang the iron and Brock Nelson (30) collected the rebound for a garbage goal in the slot at 19:48.

Chara (10) and Anders Lee (13) had the assists as New York trailed, 2-1, going into the first intermission.

The Bruins held the lead on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 19-13, after one period.

Boston also led in blocked shots (7-1), giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Islanders led in hits (12-8). Both teams managed to have three takeaways aside heading into the middle frame.

The B’s were 1/2 on the power play, while New York had yet to see any action on the skater advantage after 20 minutes of play.

Hall worked the puck deep and won a battle along the wall– sending the rubber biscuit to Erik Haula, whereby Haula setup David Pastrnak in front of the net as Pastrnak (37) kicked the puck to his blade and wrapped around Varlamov at 2:13 of the second period.

Haula (23) and Hall (34) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal, which gave the Bruins a, 3-1, lead on the scoreboard.

About 90 seconds later, Marchand (28) scooped up a loose puck and wired one into the twine after Bergeron’s initial attempt was blocked.

Bergeron (29) tallied the only assist on Marchand’s goal, however, as Boston took a three-goal lead, 4-1, at 3:56 of the second period– scoring a pair of goals in a span of 1:43 in the process.

Curtis Lazar cut a rut to the penalty box at 4:06 for cross checking, while Foligno and Matt Martin exchanged pleasantries as the temperature on the ice began to boil.

Foligno and Martin each received minor infractions for roughing, though the Islanders remained on the power play as Lazar’s infraction rendered Boston shorthanded.

About a minute into the power play, Noah Dobson fired a shot on goal that Ullmark failed to corral before Jean-Gabriel Pageau freed it back to Lee (25) for the power-play goal on the short side.

Pageau (18) and Dobson (27) had the assists on Lee’s goal as New York trailed, 4-2, at 5:12 of the second period as a result.

A couple minutes later, Trent Frederic closed his hand on the puck and was assessed a delay of game penalty– yielding another power play to the Islanders at 7:11, though this time the Isles weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, the Bruins entered the attacking zone on a rush led by Hall over to Pastrnak as Haula worked his way into the slot.

Pastrnak sent a pass to Haula (9) for a one-timer goal as the second line trio completed a “tic-tac-goal” to give Boston a, 5-2, lead at 14:33 with Pastrnak (29) and Hall (35) earning the assists.

Moments later, Marchand sent a puck off the endboards for Jake DeBrusk to collect as DeBrusk (16) banked it off of Varlamov while trying to move the rubber biscuit to the slot and was on the receiving end of a fortunate bounce off the New York netminder and over the goal line– giving the Bruins a four-goal lead and as many goals in the second period alone.

Marchand (37) and McAvoy (34) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal as the B’s took a, 6-2, lead at 18:18 of the second period and into the second intermission with a, 36-22, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston outshot New York, 17-9, in the second period alone, while maintaining an advantage in blocked shots (14-2) and takeaways (6-4).

The Islanders led in giveaways (8-5), hits (20-18) and faceoff win% (51-49) heading into the final frame.

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play after 40 minutes of action.

Palmieri went to the box for interference at 9:34 of the third period, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play as they had used up all of their goal scoring abilities by the end of the second period.

Moments later, Foligno and Martin settled their score for the afternoon with an exchange of fisticuffs at 13:10 of the third period.

Foligno picked up an extra two-minute infraction for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was served by Smith and put the Islanders on a power play as a result.

New York made relatively quick work of their skater advantage as Beauvillier faked a shot and sent a pass to Zach Parise (10) for a redirection power-play goal at 14:43 of the third period.

Beauvillier (21) and Palmieri (12) tabbed the assists on Parise’s goal and the Islanders trailed, 6-3, as a result.

Late in the period, Nosek tripped Sebastian Aho and presented the Islanders with one more power play for the afternoon at 18:35, but Boston’s penalty kill stood tall as the B’s finished the effort shorthanded at the final horn.

The Bruins won, 6-3, and finished the matinée matchup leading in shots on goal, 44-27, including an, 8-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston left their own ice with the lead in blocked shots (17-5) and faceoff win% (51-49), while New York left TD Garden with the advantage in giveaways (11-8) and hits (26-22).

The Isles went 2/4 on the power play on Saturday while the B’s went 1/3 on the skater advantage.

With the win, the Bruins are now 14-2-1 in their last 17 games– outscoring their opponents, 62-38, in that span.

Boston improved to 30-7-2 (13-4-1 at home) when scoring first, 24-2-1 (11-1-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 27-1-3 (11-1-1 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

New York fell to 5-19-4 (0-10-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-16-5 (0-9-3 on the road) when trailing after one and 1-20-3 (0-12-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins continue their five-game homestand (2-0-0) next Tuesday (March 29th) against the Toronto Maple Leafs before hosting the New Jersey Devils next Thursday (March 31st) to close out the month.

The B’s host the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick off the month of April next Saturday (April 2nd).

NHL Nick's Net

DeBrusk scores twice in Boston’s first win in Seattle

Jake DeBrusk’s scoring streak continued Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena as the Boston Bruins forward notched a pair of goals– including the game-winning goal 33 seconds into overtime to lift the B’s over the Seattle Kraken, 3-2.

DeBrusk now has four goals in his last three games and the Bruins have put together a little three-game win streak as a result.

Linus Ullmark (17-8-1, 2.76 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 27 games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the win for Boston.

Kraken goaltender, Philipp Grubauer (12-22-5, 3.17 goals-against average, .888 save percentage in 40 games played) stopped 36 out of 39 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The Bruins improved to 30-17-4 (64 points) overall and remain in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, but moved to within one point of overtaking the Washington Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Seattle, meanwhile, fell to 16-33-5 (37 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place in the Pacific Division, as well as 30th overall in the entire National Hockey League– six points ahead of the 31st place Montréal Canadiens and seven points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes from the basement of the league standings.

The B’s improved to 2-0-0 all-time against the Kraken in Seattle’s inaugural season and won’t see them again until the 2022-23 regular season calendar.

After winning, 5-1, on home ice against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, the Bruins hit the road for Seattle in the middle of the week– practicing in the NHL’s newest market on Wednesday before taking part in their first of six road matchups on Thursday.

Boston was without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) against the Kraken as Zboril remains out for the rest of the season and Vaakanainen did not travel with the team to Seattle.

Meanwhile, Brad Marchand returned from his six-game suspension– joining the Bruins ahead of the game on Thursday a day behind the rest of his teammates as he and his wife brought home their new baby daughter.

Congrats to the Marchand’s on welcoming a newborn!

Jack Ahcan and Jesper Frödén were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Jack Studnicka was reassigned to the P-Bruins. Neither Ahcan, nor Frödén were in the lineup Thursday night.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, welcomed the return of Marchand to the first line left wing alongside Patrice Bergeron, while promoting DeBrusk to the first line right wing.

Erik Haula was back centering the second line with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak on his wings as a result of Marchand’s return.

Cassidy left the third line intact and slid Nick Foligno to the fourth line left wing slot with Tomáš Nosek at center and Curtis Lazar on right wing.

On defnse, Mike Reilly suited up alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing with Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo rounding out the top-four pairings while Derek Forbort was partnered with Connor Clifton.

Anton Blidh joined Frödén and Ahcan in the press box as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches while Zboril and Vaakanainen remain out due to injury on Thursday.

Kraken captain, Mark Giordano, tripped up Charlie Coyle 20 seconds into the first period, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on their first skater advantage of the night– nor could Boston take control of the scoreboard when– about a minute later– Adam Larsson caught Hall with a high stick at 1:42.

Larsson was assessed a four-minute double minor as Hall was left bloodied, but despite 38 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage and an extended 5-on-4 power play, the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Grubauer just yet.

Instead, Giordano was freed from the box and received a pass from Riley Sheahan after Jamie Oleksiak blocked a shot in the defensive zone.

The Kraken defender skated in as the Bruins made a poorly timed line change and waltzed to the slot unopposed before Giordano (6) wired a shot past Ullmark to give Seattle a, 1-0, lead on his second shorthanded goal of the season.

In the process, Giordano became the third defender 38 or older to record at least two shorthanded goals in a season, joining Zdeno Chara (two in 2016-17) and Ray Bourque (two in 2000-01) in doing so.

Sheahan (8) and Oleksiak (11) tallied the assists on Giordano’s shorthanded goal at 3:29 of the first period.

Several minutes later, Alex Wennberg intended to avoid a surefire collision in the neutral zone with McAvoy and instead took the Boston defender’s helmet off with the blade of his stick– narrowly avoiding McAvoy’s eyes– as Wennberg tried to wield it away from McAvoy’s body to avoid a trip.

Thus, after a brief stoppage for the Bruins No. 1 defender to skate off the ice and get checked out down the tunnel for a minute, Wennberg sat in the penalty box for a pair of minutes at 9:02.

Boston still didn’t score on the resulting power play, though.

Minutes later, McAvoy was back and caught Jordan Eberle with an errant stick of his own– cutting a rut to the sin bin and presenting the Kraken with a power play at 12:00.

Boston’s penalty kill stood tall as Seattle’s skater advantage came and went.

Larsson then went back into the box for interference at 15:24 after he delivered a check on Hall without the puck.

Seconds after the power play ended, the Bruins caught the Kraken in the vulnerable minute after special teams play.

Haula chipped the puck over the back of the net, while former Bruins defender turned Seattle expansion draft pick, Jeremy Lauzon, tried to bat the puck out of mid-air and clear of the crease.

Instead, the rubber biscuit dropped to the goal line where DeBrusk (10) settled for an easy tap-in goal– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Haula (13) and Craig Smith (11) notched the assists as Boston pulled even at 17:33 of the first period with momentum on their side heading into the first intermission.

After one period, the Bruins and Kraken were tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 17-8.

Seattle held the advantage in blocked shots (7-1) and takeaways (4-1), while the B’s led in giveaways (3-1), hits (6-3) and faceoff win percentage (68-32).

The Kraken were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/5 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Nosek kicked things off in the second period with a high sticking infraction against former Bruin, Austin Czarnik, at 2:41.

Seattle wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play, however.

Moments after making the kill, Boston won an attacking zone faceoff back to the point where Grzelcyk slid the puck along the blue line to McAvoy for a pass through the high slot to Pastrnak (28) for a one-timer goal on Grubauer’s blocker side at 6:47.

McAvoy (24) and Grzelcyk (16) recorded the assists as the Bruins took their first lead of the night, 2-1, as a result.

A few minutes past the midpoint of the action, however, Boston made another bad line change that cost them.

This time, Marcus Johansson entered the attacking zone on a 2-on-1 that quickly became a de facto 2-on-0 with a pass across the ice to Eberle (15) for the slick move to the backhand while crashing the net before elevating the rubber biscuit on Ullmark’s blocker side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Johansson (13) and Calle Järnkrok (12) had the assists as the Kraken evened things up at 13:19 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Nosek was back in the penalty box for catching Järnkrok with a high stick at 16:19, but Seattle couldn’t get another puck past Ullmark as the B’s made the kill and entered the second intermission tied with the Kraken on the scoreboard, 2-2.

Boston continued to hold the advantage in total shots on goal, 31-18, while also outshooting Seattle, 14-10, in the second period alone.

The Kraken led in blocked shots (10-8) and takeaways (7-4) after two periods, while the Bruins held the advantage in giveaways (4-3), hits (13-10) and faceoff win% (67-33) through 40 minutes.

As there were no penalties called for the rest of the night, Seattle finished the action 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 0/5 on the skater advantage.

There were no goals and no penalties in the third period as the two teams swapped chances.

Seattle actually outshot Boston, 9-7, in the third period alone, but the Bruins continued to leading in total shots on goal, 38-27, heading into the extra frame.

The Kraken led in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (10-6) and giveaways (6-4), while the B’s held the advantage in hits (19-18) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Heading into overtime, Cassidy sent out Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy. Seattle’s head coach, Dave Hakstol, countered with Johansson, Eberle and Giordano.

The extra frame did not last long as Boston worked the puck through the neutral zone to DeBrusk with speed entering the attacking zone.

DeBrusk (11) drove right to the net and sent a shot past Grubauer on the short side underneath the blocker to give the Bruins the, 3-2, victory on his second goal of the game 33 seconds into overtime.

Coyle (13) and McAvoy (25) had the assists as Boston left Climate Pledge Arena with a win in their debut in the league’s newest market.

The Bruins improved to 4-2 in overtime this season, while the Kraken fell to 1-4.

Boston left the ice leading in shots on goal, 39-27– including a, 1-0, advantage in overtime alone– as well as the advantage in hits (19-18) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Seattle exited their own building leading in blocked shots (12-9) and giveaways (6-4).

The Bruins improved to 10-10-3 (4-4-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 8-5-1 (5-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period and 6-3-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Seattle fell to 8-8-2 (3-4-1 at home) when scoring first, 6-7-5 (3-3-3 at home) when tied after the first period and 7-5-3 (3-3-2 at home) when tied after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston continues their six game road trip (1-0-0) Saturday night in San Jose before venturing to Los Angeles next Monday to wrap up the month of February and kick off March next Tuesday in Anaheim.

The Bruins then swing through Vegas next Thursday and Columbus next Saturday before returning home to host the Kings on March 7th.

NHL Nick's Net

Bruins let another one slip away on Long Island

The Boston Bruins may have scored first, but the New York Islanders scored four unanswered goals to win, 4-1, Thursday night at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.

Ilya Sorokin (15-11-5, 2.46 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 31 games played) made 26 saves on 27 shots against in the win for the Islanders.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (16-8-1, 2.79 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 26 games played) stopped 25 out of 28 shots faced in the loss.

Boston fell to 27-17-4 (58 points) overall and remains in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

With the win, New York improved to 18-20-6 (42 points) on the season and stuck in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.

Patrice Bergeron returned to action after missing the last three games with an upper body injury (lacerations on the back of his head after being injured on Feb. 8th against Pittsburgh).

He returned to his usual role as the first line center and was flanked by Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak in the process.

On defense, Urho Vaakanainen returned to the lineup after missing his fourth game this season with an upper body injury that he sustained on Feb. 1st against the Seattle Kraken.

Vaakanainen was slotted on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort– rendering Connor Clifton as a healthy scratch against the Islanders.

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Brad Marchand (suspension) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled the lines with Bergeron back in action– relegating Erik Haula to third line duties in the process with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Nick Foligno on right wing.

Everything else was left untouched from Tuesday night’s, 2-1, shootout loss at the New York Rangers.

With Vaakanainen activated from the injured reserve and back in the lineup, Jack Ahcan was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday.

Jack Studnicka, Marchand, Zboril and Clifton served as Boston’s short list of players that were out of Thursday’s action as healthy scratches and/or suspended or injured players.

Midway through the opening frame, Noah Dobson hooked Bergeron and presented the Bruins with their first power play at 10:57 of the first period.

Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage and took a penalty of their own moments later when Anton Blidh was penalized for interference at 14:18.

The Islanders were unsuccessful on the resulting power play.

About a minute after the B’s killed off Blidh’s infraction, Craig Smith setup Hall as Hall (11) raced towards the net and beat Sorokin on the short side to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 17:26 of the first period.

Smith (10) and Mike Reilly (7) tallied the assists on Hall’s goal and Boston carried the, 1-0, lead into the first intermission, while outshooting the Islanders, 13-6.

Both teams had six blocked shots each, zero takeaways and went 0/1 on the power play through one period.

New York led in giveaways (4-2) and hits (9-4), while the Bruins held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (53-47) heading into the middle frame.

Haula tripped Oliver Wahlstrom at 10:28 of the second period and yielded a power play to the Islanders as a result.

It didn’t take the Isles long to strike on the skater advantage as Dobson let go of a shot from the point that dropped to the ice in the crease after Ullmark made the initial save, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7) was on the door step to collect the garbage and tie the game, 1-1, at 11:30 of the second period.

Dobson (14) and Mathew Barzal (21) notched the assists on Pageau’s power-play goal.

There were no more goals and no more penalties for the rest of the second period as the two teams went into the second intermission tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Despite New York outshooting Boston, 13-7, in the second period alone, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 20-19, through 40 minutes of action.

The Islanders led in takeaways (1-0), giveaways (7-6) and hits (24-14), while the B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (10-8) and faceoff win% (56-44).

The Isles were 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins remained 0/1 on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

DeBrusk turned the puck over in his own end while Brock Nelson worked the rubber biscuit around the boards and back to the point where Dobson (8) threw a shot with eyes through traffic past Ullmark to give the Islanders their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 5:50 of the third period.

Nelson (9) had the only assist on what would become the game-winning goal as the Bruins couldn’t keep up.

Midway through the third period, Cal Clutterbuck interfered with Trent Frederic and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 10:14.

Boston failed to convert on the ensuing advantage.

Moments later, Frederic made a big hit on Kieffer Bellows as the puck rebounded and Boston’s defenders were momentarily preoccupied as Ullmark was out of position.

Barzal (12) (who had just skated around the back of the net to reach the other side) timed it perfectly for a layup goal on the rebound to extend New York’s lead to two-goals.

Bellows (7) and Adam Pelech (12) had the assists on Barzal’s goal and the Islanders led, 3-1, at 13:32 of the third period.

With 2:53 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra skater. It did not go well.

Zdeno Chara tried to clear New York’s defensive zone and inadvertently sent an indirect pass off the glass to Nelson in the neutral zone, whereby Nelson (16) skated closer to the open frame and buried an empty net goal to give the Islanders a, 4-1, lead at 18:47.

Chara (7) had the only assist on Nelson’s goal.

At the final horn, the Islanders sealed the deal on three unanswered goals in the third period to win, 4-1, on home ice.

New York finished the night leading in shots on goal, 29-27, including a, 10-7, advantage in the third period alone.

The Isles also held the advantage in blocked shots (15-11) and hits (35-20), while Boston left UBS Arena leading in giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (60-40).

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

The B’s dropped to 19-7-1 against teams currently outside of a playoff spot and 0-2-0 against the Islanders this season.

Boston fell to 18-7-1 (9-3-1 on the road) when scoring first, 17-2-1 (9-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 5-3-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when tied after the second period this season.

New York improved to 5-16-2 (5-9-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-14-2 (2-7-1 at home) when trailing after one and 2-2-3 (1-2-3 at home) when tied after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins conclude their four-game road trip (1-1-1) against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.

Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche next Monday in a matinée matchup that was originally scheduled for Dec. 23rd before hitting the road again on a trip through Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to wrap up the month of February.

The B’s open the month of March in Anaheim before visiting Vegas and Columbus.

NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NHL Nick's Net

Islanders down Bruins, 3-1, Varlamov makes 40 saves

Cal Clutterbuck had a pair of goals, while Semyon Varlamov made a season-high 40 saves en route to his first win of the season as the New York Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-1, at UBS Arena on Thursday.

Varlamov (1-5-1, 2.99 goals-against average, .900 save percentage in eight games played) turned aside 40 out of 41 shots faced in the win, while Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (7-5-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 12 games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 14-10-2 (30 points) on the season and remained in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while New York improved to 8-12-5 (21 points) overall and stuck in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s visited UBS Arena for the first time since it opened last month and will visit one more arena that’s new to the National Hockey League circuit when they visit the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Feb. 24th.

Jakub Zboril (lower body) remained out of the lineup while Brad Marchand and Craig Smith were joined in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol by Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen, as well as two team staff members.

The Bruins announced Steen’s addition to the league COVID protocol as both clubs started warming up on Thursday night.

Due to salary cap constraints, defender, John Moore, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Jesper Frödén and Kyle Keyser were recalled from Providence on Thursday.

Bruce Cassidy was forced to make several lineup changes as Boston went with 11 forwards as a result of losing seven players to COVID protocol ahead of Thursday night’s action.

Charlie Coyle centered the first line with Taylor Hall at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing, while Tomáš Nosek centered the second line with Erik Haula and Nick Foligno on his wings.

Jack Studnicka centered the third line and was flanked by Jake DeBrusk as well as Frödén, who made his NHL debut in the process.

On the fourth line, Curtis Lazar and Karson Kuhlman took shifts with a rotating cast of wingers to complete the line.

With Moore out of the lineup, Mike Reilly returned to the third defensive pairing alongside Connor Clifton.

In net, Keyser served as Ullmark’s backup with Swayman in COVID protocol and Tuukka Rask still unsigned as an unrestricted free agent that’s recovering from major offseason hip surgery.

Boston’s long list of scratches on Thursday included Swayman, Frederic, Smith, Bergeron, Steen, Marchand, Zboril and Blidh.

Early in the opening frame Kyle Palmieri slashed Derek Forbort and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins at 5:23 of the first period.

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

Midway through the first period, Matt Martin won a battle along the endboards– utilizing a strong forecheck to free the puck on a turnover from the trapezoid to Clutterbuck (4), who was standing in the right place at the right time in the slot to bury the rubber biscuit and give the Islanders a, 1-0, lead at 11:47.

Clutterbuck’s first goal of the game was unassisted.

Less than a minute later, Haula caught Isles defender, Andy Greene with a high stick, but New York failed to capitalize on the resulting power play at 12:00 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Islanders led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held a, 10-9, advantage in shots on goal.

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (1-0), giveaways (11-4) and hits (13-11), while both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, and went 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Forbort caught Clutterbuck with a high stick six seconds into the second period and it didn’t take the Isles long to score on the resulting power play.

Anthony Beauvillier (4) sent a shot that might have deflected off of a Bruins skater’s stick and over Ullmark’s glove– just under the bar– to extend New York’s lead to two-goals.

Robin Salo (1) and Justin Bailey (9) tallied the assists– marking the first career point in just his seventh NHL game for Salo, while giving the Islanders a, 2-0, lead on Beauvillier’s power-play goal at 1:44 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Foligno and Martin became entangled and exchanged fisticuffs resulting in five-minute majors for each of them, as well as an extra two minutes for Foligno for roughing at 9:22.

Frödén served Foligno’s minor infraction and Boston suffered no consequences on the resulting penalty kill.

Through 40 minutes of action at UBS Arena on Thursday, the Islanders led, 2-0, on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Bruins, 29-22, including a, 21-12, advantage for Boston in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (10-5), takeaways (3-1), giveaways (13-8) and hits (20-16), while New York led in faceoff win% (55-46).

The Isles were 1/3 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Early in the third period, Zdeno Chara tripped Hall and presented Boston with another power play at 3:25, but the Bruins’ advantage was short lived.

A minute after Chara skated to the sin bin, his former defensive partner, Charlie McAvoy, cut a rut to the opposing team’s box for cross checking at 4:25.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for a minute before the Islanders went on an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

New York couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark and, instead, took another penalty when Brock Nelson hooked Matt Grzelcyk at 5:27.

After a short stint at 4-on-4, Boston had another abbreviated power play that went by the wayside.

Moments later, Grzelcyk went to the box for interference at 10:25, but the Isles failed to convert on the resulting power play.

With 2:55 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as it didn’t take long for Anders Lee to send a pass across the neutral zone to Clutterbuck (5) for an empty net goal after he crossed into the attacking zone.

Lee (1) had the only assist on Clutterbuck’s second goal of the game and the Islanders led, 3-0, at 17:43 of the third period.

In the dying minute of the night’s action, Reilly (3) pinched in from the point and sent a shot over Varlamov’s high glove side after it deflected off of Scott Mayfield– cutting New York’s lead back to two goals.

Brandon Carlo (3) and Ullmark (1) recorded the assists on Reilly’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 19:06 of the third period.

With 37.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Ullmark skated to the bench for an extra attacker.

Clutterbuck sent a shot attempt towards the empty frame that just went wide as it hit the post and prevented hats from raining down from the stands.

At the final horn, New York had won, 3-1, despite being outshot by Boston, 41-28, including a, 12-6, advantage for the Bruins in the third period alone.

The B’s exited the building leading in blocked shots (13-11), giveaways (17-12) and hits (26-22), while the Isles led in faceoff win% (58-42).

New York finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while Boston went powerless on the skater advantage, 0/3.

The B’s fell to 4-6-2 (1-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-7-2 (0-4-1 on the road) when losing after two periods this season.

The Islanders, on the other hand, improved to 7-4-4 (1-1-1 at home) when scoring first, 5-1-1 (1-0-0 at home) when leading after one and 8-1-1 (2-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

As of now, the Bruins are scheduled to travel to Montréal to square off with the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday before venturing to Kanata, Ontario to take on the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. 

Boston returns home next Tuesday to host the Carolina Hurricanes before taking on the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 23rd in their final game before the league’s three-day Christmas break.

NHL Nick's Net Previews

New York Islanders 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 32-17-7, 71 points

4th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the Stanley Cup Semifinal by Tampa

Additions: F Andy Andreoff, F Richard Panik (acquired from DET), F Zach Parise, D Paul LaDue, D Zdeno Chara

Subtractions: F Robert Carpenter (signed with Milwaukee Admirals, AHL), F Jordan Eberle (expansion, SEA), F Tanner Fritz (signed with Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL), F Joshua Ho-Sang (signed with Toronto Marlies, AHL), F Andrew Ladd (traded to ARI), F Travis Zajac (signed to one-day contract with NJD, retired), D Nick Leddy (traded to DET)

Still Unsigned: F Kieffer Bellows (RFA), F Michael Dal Colle (RFA), D Braydon Coburn, G Cory Schneider

Re-signed: F Cole Bardreau, F Anthony Beauvillier, F Casey Cizikas, F Otto Koivula, F Kyle Palmieri, F Dmytro Timashov, D Andy Greene, D Adam Pelech, G Ilya Sorokin

Offseason Analysis: It’s October and we still don’t really know who is and who isn’t under contract with the New York Islanders because Isles General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, plays by his own rules.

Well, not exactly like that, but he at least doesn’t like facial hair and won’t allow his players to sport a scruffy look. Not even a goatee (which bothers me as someone that looks much too young without sporting even a small patch of stubble on my chin to prove, in fact, that I am old enough to order a beer– let alone see an “R”-rated movie).

Anyway, Lamoriello has slowly been announcing– though never disclosing the financial terms– deals that have been signed by players like Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara, as well as extensions for Kyle Palmieri, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Ilya Sorokin.

Parise, 37, joins New York after amassing 393-417–810 totals in 1,060 career National Hockey League games for the New Jersey Devils and– most recently– the Minnesota Wild.

Last season with the Wild, he had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games, which was a bit of a steep decline in his production from 2019-20, albeit in much more limited time as Minnesota head coach, Dean Evason, felt his team was better with Parise scratched from time to time.

New York head coach, Barry Trotz, on the other hand, thinks he can utilize Parise in the right amounts to maximize his value as a veteran of the league in search of his first Cup ring– let alone his first trip back to the Stanley Cup Final since 2012.

Chara, 44, reunites with the Islanders– the team that drafted him in the 3rd round (56th overall) in the 1996 NHL Draft prior to breaking into the league with the Isles in the 1997-98 season and spending parts of four seasons on Long Island before then-General Manager Mike Milbury traded him to the Ottawa Senators ahead of the 2001-02 season.

The long time veteran defender is entering his 24th season after amassing 207-459–666 totals in 1,608 games thus far with the Islanders, Senators, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Chara was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster and should pay dividends on the third pairing, as well as on the penalty kill, while Pelech and Ryan Pulock rest up for another long shift.

After being acquired ahead of last season’s deadline, Palmieri put up four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games down the stretch with New York after amassing 8-9–17 totals with the Devils in 34 games prior in 2020-21.

In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, Palmieri found his scoring touch– notching seven goals and two assists (nine points) in 19 games en route to being eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal.

Lamoriello added more veterans to an already veteran infused lineup while presumably remaining tight against the salary cap.

Though New York had a bit of a bumpy ending to the regular season last year, they peaked at the right time to be one goal away from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.

As an organization that’s been on the rise with Trotz behind the bench, the Islanders are sure to be out with something to prove in the league’s return to a normal 82-game schedule format and everything.

Pelech’s eight-year extension worth $5.750 million per season at 27-years-old is Lamoriello’s greatest gift thus far to New York’s core as a good team friendly contract as Pulock enters a contract year in 2021-22 and Mathew Barzal carries two remaining years on his current deal.

Love him or hate him, Lamoriello also did a decent job keeping Casey Cizikas in line with more conventional thinking for a top-nine forward on a new six-year deal worth $2.500 million per season compared to his last contract, which was a five-year deal with a $3.350 million cap hit.

Generally speaking, first line forwards should be paid around $9.000 million, second liners between $4.000 to $6.000 million with third liners earning roughly $1.000 to $4.000 million and fourth liners taking home a cap hit between league minimum and $2.000 million per year at most.

Follow that logic and you’ll be able to spread some wealth around on short-term contracts among your replacement level players or sign long term deals at a decent cap hit that’s expendable if you run into performance issues or cap related casualties down the road.

Meanwhile, because of Lamoriello’s masterclass in contract negotiations this summer, Anthony Beauvillier got a three-year bridge deal at $4.150 million per season and Ilya Sorokin earned a three-year extension worth $4.000 million per season– keeping the Islanders competitive as Cup contenders for at least the next few years while balancing the growth and development of their core as they age into their prime.

Of course, everything comes with a price as Lamoriello shipped out Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in a trade on July 16th for Richard Panik and a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Edmonton, via Detroit- 52nd overall, Aatu Raty).

Chara is 14 years Leddy’s senior, but Leddy’s $5.500 million cap hit was a roadblock in keeping the bulk of New York’s core together.

To save some additional funds for redistribution this summer, the Islanders dealt Andrew Ladd, a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Colorado via the Islanders, 60th overall- Janis Jerome Moser), as well as a conditional 2022 2nd round pick and a conditional 2023 3rd round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for future considerations.

Arizona took on Ladd’s entire $5.500 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season.

Offseason Grade: B

For what needed to be done to protect the integrity of the Islanders as a Cup contender in the next few seasons (at least), Lamoriello made proper efforts to add without subtracting, while balancing the books in an efficient manner.

There’s a lot to like about the respectable bridge contracts, but Pelech’s eight-year extension is a home run for what is otherwise New York’s cornerstone on defense with Pulock due for a bit of a pay raise next summer.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Isles off their game by just a little as the long runs into the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020 and 2021 take a toll on a team in every sense of the imagination.

New York won’t need to hit “reset”, but rather “refresh” as they should comfortably reach the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as for how far they go depends on if they can stay healthy and focused– especially with UBS Arena set to open in November, thereby giving the Islanders a long 13-game road streak to start the 2021-22 regular season.

If they don’t win it all in 2022, they should be primed for a bounce-back in 2023, with their best chance at a Cup since their dynasty in the 1980s.

NHL Nick's Net Previews

Washington Capitals 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 36-15-5, 77 points

2nd in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Boston

Additions: F Michael Vecchione, D Matt Irwin, D Dylan McIlrath, G Hunter Shepard

Subtractions: F Daniel Carr (NL), F Phillippe Maillet (KHL), F Michael Raffl (signed with DAL), D Zdeno Chara (signed with NYI), D Brenden Dillon (traded to WPG), D Paul LaDue (signed with NYI), G Craig Anderson (signed with BUF), G Henrik Lundqvist (retired)

Still Unsigned: D Cameron Schilling

Re-signed: F Axel Jonsson-Fjällby, F Shane Gersich, F Beck Malenstyn, F Alex Ovechkin, F Garrett Pilon, F Michael Sgarbossa, F Joe Snively, D Lucas Johansen, D Bobby Nardella, G Ilya Samsonov

Where do I put him? G Vitek Vanecek (expansion, SEA, acquired from SEA, then re-signed)

Offseason Analysis: The Capitals keep telling themselves they can win another Stanley Cup title in the Alex Ovechkin Era, but after three-straight years of First Round exits– most recently in five games to the Boston Bruins– despite being the higher seed in each case might tell you something.

This team is getting old.

The core isn’t as young as they used to be and now Washington is scrambling to piece together some semblance of a run, which will undoubtedly cost them valuable pieces of their youth if they let it go to their heads– as already seen by trading Jakub Vrana for Anthony Mantha at the deadline.

Though it may be unpopular with fans, it would’ve made more sense to try to get T.J. Oshie to submit a list of teams he wouldn’t agree to be traded to and try to save yourself $5.750 million per season through 2024-25 that you could spend elsewhere.

Caps General Manager, Brian MacLellan, didn’t have much to do this summer, because Washington is sticking with their guns whether it works or not.

They’ve tried it before– though with minor recurring character changes– and somehow it worked in 2018, surely it can happen all over again!

MacLellan was more focused on signing Ovechkin to an extension.

Despite the superstar forward’s scoring prowess, he is 36-years-old. That’s not to say that he won’t be able to usurp Wayne Gretzky for the most goals in National Hockey League history– especially if he plays for another 10 years– but it is worth noting that it’s generally not a good idea to hand out a five-year extension worth $9.500 million per season.

That’s sealing your fate right there.

Washington could win another Cup and everything is forgiven or Ovechkin’s cap hit comes back to bite the Capitals in the long run, regardless of increases in the cap ceiling down the road.

Ovechkin could get hurt. Then what?

Sure, there’s the long term injured reserve, but what if he can never play again? Now you’re out of your best talent and the rest of the supporting cast isn’t good enough to carry the show on their own, like The Office after Steve Carell left.

Think about it.

A 40-year-old player with a $9.500 million cap hit is unheard of– especially in the salary cap era. Luckily for the Caps, Ovechkin is only 36-years-old for now.

If Ovechkin would’ve been fine with a two or three-year extension worth even just a $500,000 less per season than his current cap hit– you offer that extension.

Once it starts reaching long-term status, that’s when negotiations should’ve gone from “whatever you want” to “whatever you want, within reason”.

Whether Ovechkin stays or leaves is ultimately “whatever he wants” and, ultimately, the same is true with his new extension.

Who knows, maybe in three years, Ovechkin will request a trade or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, the Seattle Kraken took Vitek Vanecek in the expansion draft only to turn around and trade him back to Washington for a 2023 2nd round pick a week later.

At least the social media teams had fun with it.

Seattle got what they wanted from elsewhere and yielded a 2023 2nd round pick in the process, while Washington just… …opened the door and let him back inside from the rain.

Vanecek went 21-10-4 in 37 games with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage and two shutouts in that span last season while emerging as the de facto starting goaltender for the Capitals after Ilya Samsonov had bouts on the COVID-19 protocol list interspersed with some inconsistent play.

Samsonov went 13-4-1 in 19 games with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and two shutouts in that span. In 2019-20, he went 16-6-2 in 26 games, amassing a 2.55 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage as well as one shutout.

While both goaltenders are considered viable at the NHL level in Washington, there’s going to be a larger sample size to analyze which one is really better in the long run.

There’s also no safety net if the healthy competition goes awry and with roughly $668,740 in cap space, things could get ugly– and fast.

It’s not like the Capitals are teetering on the edge of a rebuild, but one more year of a First Round exit might thrust them into reactionary maneuvers instead of carefully crafting an exit strategy into a seamless transition from the old core to a new core– whatever that may be.

Craig Anderson, Zdeno Chara and Brenden Dillon are gone.

Anderson was going to retire until the Buffalo Sabres remembered they needed to sign a couple of goaltenders to play in the upcoming season like. Chara went back to the New York Islanders.

Dillon, meanwhile, was traded to the Winnipeg Jets on July 26th for a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick, so that seems like a pretty good selling point for a defender that fell victim to the Caps’ cap crunch.

The offense remains the same, the defense is intact and the goaltending leaves a little something to be desired.

Washington proved the hockey world wrong when many said they should dismantle the team heading into the 2017-18 season. Can they recreate that magic again?

Offseason Grade: C-

Ovechkin might have signed a lucrative deal for a player over 35, but Washington’s tight squeeze against the salary cap isn’t the biggest question right now.

Whereas when Braden Holtby began his regression to his present-day form with the Dallas Stars, Samsonov was just a young backup getting a pass for a respectable 2.55 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in roughly 1/4 of the season.

That was in 2019-20, when Holtby had a 25-14-6 record in 48 games with a 3.11 goals-against average, an .897 save percentage and no shutouts in that span.

When one goalie faltered, the other goalie could step in and fill a hole.

Entering 2021-22, Samsonov and Vanecek have both shown the same results. The former, however, may play a bit too aggressive, while the latter is more tactical in style– as long as he’s healthy, but nevertheless each had a 2.69 goals-against average in their respective stints last season.

There’s no clear-cut winner for the starting job from day one. At the very least, that’ll be good motivation for whoever wants it more.

Other than that, Washington shouldn’t be too worried about regular season results. It’s when it really counts that matters (so… …making it out of the First Round).

NHL Nick's Net Previews

Boston Bruins 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 33-16-7, 73 points

3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by N.Y. Islanders

Additions: F Samuel Asselin, F Steven Fogarty, F Nick Foligno, F Jesper Frödén, F Erik Haula, F Tomas Nosek, D Derek Forbort, D James Greenway (acquired from TOR), D Tyler Lewington, G Troy Grosenick, G Linus Ullmark

Subtractions: F Paul Carey (SHL), F Sean Kuraly (signed with CBJ), F David Krejci (ELH), F Robert Lantosi (SHL), F Greg McKegg (signed with NYR), F Ondrej Kase (signed with TOR), F Nick Ritchie (signed with TOR), D Steven Kampfer (KHL), D Jeremy Lauzon (expansion, SEA), D Kevan Miller (retired), D Jarred Tinordi (signed with NYR), G Jaroslav Halak (signed with VAN), G Dan Vladar (traded to CGY)

Still Unsigned: F Alex Khokhlachev (KHL, BOS reserve list), G Tuukka Rask

Re-signed: F Anton Blidh, F Trent Frederic, F Taylor Hall, F Cameron Hughes, F Joona Koppanen, F Zach Senyshyn, D Brandon Carlo, D Mike Reilly, D Nick Wolff, G Callum Booth

Offseason Analysis: The Bruins are in a period of transition. Stop calling them favorites.

They might still be playoff contenders, but they’ll have to focus on even making the postseason first to begin with shortly– if not already– this upcoming season.

Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, had his work cut out for him this summer and managed it pretty well– all things considered.

Sure, the B’s don’t have David Krejci and we’ll get into that, but instead of signing one or two free agents and calling it a day, then talking about needing to fill a hole that he’s left empty for years or created going into the new season, Sweeney signed five key players and then some for depth.

It’s a transition, not a purposeful tank to rebuild– yet, anyway.

As long as Patrice Bergeron is under contract, Boston has assured him they’ll do whatever he and Brad Marchand say the dressing room needs.

Speaking of Bergeron, though, he’s put off contract extension talks until the 2021-22 season is over, so for any Bruins fans that have gone through the pain of watching Zdeno Chara play in a different uniform last season with the Washington Capitals and again this upcoming season with the New York Islanders, as well as watching Krejci return to Czechia this year, well… …it happens. Time waits for no one.

All good things must come to an end and a new era dawns. Just hope it’s a good one.

Oh, and, Tuukka Rask is currently unsigned after offseason hip surgery, though the 34-year-old goaltender has expressed a desire to only play for the Bruins if he’s healthy enough to go for the 2021-22 season by the time December rolls around.

He’ll even sign for league minimum and “tons of Bud Lights”, which a certain podcast would love, even if it isn’t their preferred light beer (shameless plug for some Twitter pals).

Anyway, Sweeney’s saved about $1.089 million in cap space to sign Rask to a low, one-year, deal if he’s good enough to return to action, which wouldn’t complicate matters in the crease with the arrival of Linus Ullmark via free agency and the development of Jeremy Swayman.

Rask and Swayman were always going to share the spotlight as Swayman comes into his own. Rask’s injury, however, slightly changes matters in the handoff.

Ullmark joins the Bruins on a four-year contract worth $5.000 million per season through 2024-25. He was the winningest goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres last season with a 9-6-3 record in 20 games, a 2.63 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.

Given the workload that he faced in Buffalo compared to Boston’s more structured defense, Ullmark’s numbers should improve as he’s had moments of brilliance in his short spurts thus far– only really coming into the league as a starter or backup goaltender in the last two seasons.

At 28-years-old, he’s right on track for goaltender development and if things head south, the Bruins can use 2021-22 as a write off, plus 2022-23 as a means of giving Swayman full-time starter duties at the earliest.

Swayman, at 22-years-old, has already played 10 National Hockey League games and amassed a 7-3-0 record with a 1.50 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts, but that kind of luck is unheard of for a goaltender.

Eventually, given his unconventional style, his stats will come back to Earth and you don’t want to let reality cut down a goaltender’s confidence so soon while they’re young (see, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart’s 2020-21 season, for example).

It’s nice to have Swayman as a future ace, but that’s just it– the future. Though the future is now in transition, it’s not quite the time to make the jump in the crease– especially while there’s more pressing matters like replacing Krejci.

Charlie Coyle is, ideally, Boston’s second line center entering this season, but if things go south with Coyle centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith, then that’s where Nick Foligno or Erik Haula come in handy, if Jack Studnicka can’t make the jump from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to Boston.

Krejci finally could’ve had wingers in Hall and Smith for a full season, but the 35-year-old has always wanted to play in front of his parents and brother in the Czech Republic– especially after leaving for North America in his teens to play hockey for a living.

It’ll also help introduce his kids to his Czech native tongue, so they’ll be able to communicate with their grandparents.

Having spent his entire career with Boston through 962 regular season games since breaking into the league in the 2006-07 season, he’s earned every right to do as he pleases.

He might be back for the 2022-23 season, but absolutely do not hold him to it.

Hall, meanwhile, signed a four-year extension worth $6.000 million per season in the offseason, so Boston at least still only has one hole to fill on the second line if Coyle can’t return to form.

Foligno signed a two-year deal with a $3.800 million cap hit and Haula signed a two-year deal worth $2.375 million per season.

In 957 career NHL games, Foligno’s had 203-283–486 totals for the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs. He had been Columbus’ captain until the deadline when he was dealt to Toronto to add some punch to their lineup, only to blow a 3-1 series lead over the Montréal Canadiens in the 2021 First Round.

Foligno had 7-13–20 totals in 49 games with the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs in 2020-21.

If nothing else, Foligno adds valuable leadership in the absence of Krejci and should hold things over as someone that gives it their all on a night-to-night basis. Bruins fans should warm up to him quickly if they haven’t already.

Haula, on the other hand, spent last season with the Nashville Predators, where he had 9-12–21 totals in 51 games last season, which was about the same production he had with the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers in 2019-20.

He hasn’t been able to find his breakout scoring touch that he had with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18, when he had 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 76 games, but he should be fine as a third liner flanked by Jake DeBrusk and Foligno.

Boston needs to get a consistent offense going and they at least seem to have the right level of talent for each line this season.

As long as everyone stays healthy it’s a good thing with an overhauled defense due to the Seattle Kraken taking Jeremy Lauzon in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Kevan Miller retiring and the uneasiness of delegating more time to Jakub Zboril after his– at times– lackluster 2020-21 season.

Speaking of the revamped bottom-six, however, Tomas Nosek is new in town on a two-year deal worth $1.750 million per season, joining Trent Frederic– fresh off of an extension this offseason for two years and a $1.050 million cap hit– and Chris Wagner on the fourth line.

He’s been a fun player to watch come into his own with the Golden Knights since Vegas took him from the Detroit Red Wings in their expansion draft in 2017, and just had a career-year with 8-10–18 totals in 38 games last season.

Anything at or above 15 points from a fourth line center is a job well done for less than a $2.000 million cap hit.

Sean Kuraly’s gone home to Columbus, but after dropping from 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 69 games in 2019-20, to just nine points (four goals, five assists) in 47 games last season, needing a change of scenery was a welcome excuse for Boston to let him go.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie also departed in the offseason for Toronto, though Kase’s future is shrouded by the ever-looming cloud of concussions and Ritchie outperformed expectations last season in the first half of the season before regressing to his ways.

Jaroslav Halak also left for the Vancouver Canucks, though that was inevitable with the long line for Boston’s backup goaltender being cut by Swayman’s emergence.

Even Dan Vladar was traded to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 3rd round pick as a result.

A couple of days prior, on July 26th, Boston acquired the rights to James Greenway from the Maple Leafs for future considerations. He’ll need a little more time in the system, for now.

With Miller retired, Steven Kampfer off to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia and Jarred Tinordi gone to the New York Rangers in free agency, Sweeney signed Derek Forbort to a three-year contract worth $3.000 million per season.

Mike Reilly also played well enough after being acquired at the trade deadline to earn a three-year extension with a $3.000 million cap hit as well.

Additionally, Brandon Carlo signed a six-year extension worth $4.100 million per season, so the Bruins have a defensive core with Carlo, Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk and Reilly under contract after 2021-22.

Charlie McAvoy, meanwhile is a pending-restricted free agent by the time July 1, 2022, rolls around (unless he’s signed to an extension before then).

Forbort, meanwhile, joins Boston after spending last season with the Winnipeg Jets where he had 2-10–12 totals in 56 games from the blue line. At 6-foot-4, 219-pounds, he adds much needed size to Boston’s defense.

In the meantime, John Moore, remains under contract and likely on the long term injured reserve to start the season, leaving his $2.750 million cap hit mostly off the books until the Bruins come to some sort of a resolution on that one.

Time will tell if the B’s will sink or swim, but you can’t say they didn’t try to put something together on paper this offseason.

Offseason Grade: B

In Boston, you either like or hate Sweeney. There’s no such thing as love unless you win championship rings these days.

While Sweeney’s made some blunders along the way, his overall approach as the Bruins’ GM has established a foundation of being in the room– being in consideration and among the conversation from year-to-year for attracting talent and making trades.

Sometimes it’s panned out, like the acquisition of Hall. Sometimes it’s fallen short, like when Sweeney paid a hefty price for Rick Nash (though only Ryan Lindgren remains a threat on the Rangers and Nash’s career-ending concussion couldn’t have been accounted for at the time of the trade).

Boston was stuck in the mud when he replaced Peter Chiarelli and Sweeney’s hands were tied in 2015, but he’s always been an active general manager and is tactical in his approach of replacing expendable assets.

At the same time, that very process irks Bruins fans because it comes across as overthinking or not trying hard enough to sign the player instead of a (better fit be damned) player.

Well, that and every guy these days isn’t Tim Thomas or Bobby Orr.

NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward Line 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward Line 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would he like to get another Cup ring? Probably.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward Line 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONDREJ KASE (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward Line 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREG McKEGG (1-0—1 totals in 5 games)

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

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

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

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

That’s right. Seven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

OSKAR STEEN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

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

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

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

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

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

That’s what we’re looking at here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defensive Pairing 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on that in a minute.

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

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

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

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

Enough said.

Defensive Pairing 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defensive Pairing 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN MOORE (0-2—2 totals in 5 games)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JACK AHCAN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

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

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

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

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

Starting Goaltender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backup Goaltender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third String Goaltender

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth String Goaltender

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

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

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

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

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