Bruins Brace For Battle With Hurricanes

A hurricane is rolling through Boston tonight, as the Bruins will play their 24th game of the year against the Carolina Hurricanes. Tonight’s game will be a match between two of the leagues most average teams, as both come into tonight just outside of the playoff structure. Carolina sits at 9-9-4, while Boston sits at 12-10-1. The Canes have gotten exactly half of their possible 44 points this season, and sit at 22 points overall. Boston comes in just past 50% accumulating 25 of a possible 46.

Side note: Boston’s OTL against Philadelphia made them the last team in the NHL to experience an overtime loss this season. The Bruins were the last remaining team with zero to that point.

Stories:

1. Chara Skating, But Remains Absent –

Chara will miss tonight’s game, but has returned to the ice. He skated with the team this morning and he is expected to return shortly. I like the move to keep him out tonight, because not only can you not afford to rush him back into action, but Carolina isn’t exactly a team where you NEED Chara. It’s the safe and smart play.

2. Playoff Picture –

I know it’s only December, but if people can play Christmas music right after Halloween, then dammit I can talk about the playoffs before the New Year. Boston is currently tied with New Jersey for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the spot goes to New Jersey by virtue of them playing in fewer games. If it were the end of the season, though, Boston would be in based on Regulation and Overtime Losses, as well as their record against the Devils (1-0-0). Boston hasn’t played incredible hockey to date, but they are definitely in the picture. Also, Tampa Bay is only 2 points up, with Boston having a game in hand over them. A win tonight, with a Tampa Bay loss, moves Boston into 3rd in the Atlantic.

3. Pasta’s Streak Broken – 

All good things must come to an end, and on Tuesday, Pastrnak’s goal streak did just that. The 20 year old was not able to match his season-high of 5 straight games with a goal, as he saw his streak die at 3 games this go around. The Flyers ruin everything for us, I swear.

 

Tonight’s game is most likely going to be boring, and playing anywhere close to decent will probably be good enough to beat Carolina, but I’ll do these anyway.

3 KEYS –

1. Push The Puck –

Take advantage of a lackluster opponent by pushing the puck and keeping play in their end. Carolina isn’t a stout defensive team, so if you get the puck in the zone, you’re likely to get a good scoring chance.

2. Keep Shooting The Puck – 

I’m liking these 40+ shot games for us. They don’t always equate to goals, but the more you take, the more chances you have to score. In case you’ve never watched hockey before, the more goals, the better. Keep getting shots, and start burying them more.

3. Keep The Minutes Down – 

We aren’t in a crazy part of the schedule, but the games have been coming at a fast pace this season. There’s barely been a chance to rest, so don’t have the top guys playing big minutes against lower-teams. Carolina is not a team that requires us to play Bergeron for 18+ minutes. It’s just that simple. Don’t over work the team’s stars.

 

PROJECTED LINE-UP:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Czarnik

Spooner-Moore-Hayes

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-Carlo

Morrow-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin

 

MY LINE-UP (I’m taking a big swing at the lines, because we need production)

Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Moore-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Beleskey-Schaller-Hayes

Krug-Carlo

McQuaid-K Miller

Morrow-C Miller

Rask

Khudobin

 

Prediction: CAR 0-4 BOS

 

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3 Keys: Calgary Flames @ Boston Bruins

How Boston can ensure The Flames don’t burn down TD Garden

The 9-12-1 Calgary Flames are visiting Boston tonight, looking to capitalize on a vulnerable Bruins’ team that is certainly lacking confidence after last night’s loss. Former Bruin Chad Johnson is expected in net tonight for Calgary, while the Bruins’ goalie situation is unknown, and will likely remain that way until gametime. Seeing as Rask had a less than impressive start last night, there’s a good chance Anton Khudobin will get the start. However, with Zdeno Chara out, Boston will likely want their starter in to give some reliability in net. As I said, it’s unknown. Tune in at 7:30 to find out!

 

Regardless of the goalie, the Bruins are going to need the win tonight, and if they’re going to do that, they’ll have to do these three things:

 

1. Take Advantage of a Beaten Up Opponent –

There have been very few games where Boston is playing against a team with as many or more injuries as they have, but tonight is one of the rare occasions. Without Gaudreau already, its possible Calgary could be without Kris Versteeg as well. This would mean 4 players, 2 of them established stars, would sit tonight  for the Flames, whereas Boston would be missing only Zdeno Chara, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano who has missed the entire season to date. Boston needs to take advantage of the lack of firepower (pun absolutely intended) on the Flames’ offense, and respond by pushing the puck, and giving no room to the beat-up Calgary team.

2. PASTA! PASTA! PASTA! –

Man, I love David Pastrnak! The kid does great things, and helps the team. Of course, I’d never put him ahead of a guy like Bergeron (have you noticed he’s been quiet lately?), but he’s on a tear right now, and you need to put the puck where it’s got a shot at going in. Right now, your best chance at a goal, is through David Pastrnak.

3. Play Smart Defense – 

We do NOT need a repeat of the mistakes last night. Our defense has to play smart, disciplined hockey. They need patience, and to play with instinct. They’ve been overthinking things lately, and in hockey, there’s no time to think. Play as if Zdeno was in the lineup still, and just be smart. Smart hockey, is winning hockey, and winning hockey, is fun to watch.

 

Projected line-ups:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Spooner-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Hayes

Liles-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-K Miller

?
?

 

MY LINE-UP:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Spooner-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Hayes

Krug-Carlo

Liles-K Miller

Morrow-McQuaid

Khudobin

Rask

 

PREDICTION: CGY 2-5 BOS

Chara’s Absence Costs Bruins on Thanksgiving

Bruins left with nothing to be thankful for, fall 3-1 to Ottawa

Boston walked in to the Canadian Tire Center in Ontario looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss at home. Instead, they were met by passionate fans, and a Canadian team that couldn’t have cared less what American holiday it was. Zdeno Chara missed his first full-game of the season, and left the young defense with the task of stopping Ottawa’s potent offense. Kevan Miller looked strong in his return from injury, despite making a mistake leading to an Ottawa goal. Also returning from injury, David Pastrnak shined early, scoring yet another goal in this still young season. Ottawa got the better of the play, and left Boston questioning their identity without Z on defense.

 

Boston put the first goal on the board late in the first, after an Ottawa penalty put Boston on the power play. After a scrum in front of the net, the puck found its way to David Pastrnak’s stick, and he pulled off a magical goal, his 11th of the year.

625636604_slide
Courtesy: Getty Images

Ottawa would not sit dormant for long, however, as the Sens found themselves on the board midway through the second. 13 minutes in, Mark Stone tied the game, after a defensive breakdown cost Boston their one-goal lead. Kevan Miller showed his rust, leaving a gaping passing lane, leading to a mini-breakaway goal from the Senators. No further goals were scored in the second, but Ottawa would find twine twice in the third, spoiling Boston’s Thanksgiving Game Parade.

3 UPS:

1. David Pastrnak –

Surprise, surprise! David Pastrnak finds himself in the UPS once again. The kid’s been white hot to open up his third season, scoring a team leading 11 goals, despite playing in 5 less games than the team. He’s averaging a point a game and has just looked sharp. He’s cleaned up his defensive play, bulking up a bit in the offseason, which has helped him drastically. He’s a totally different player than he was a year ago. Don’t let him slip, Sweeney!

2. Kevan Miller –

Take away the ugly mistake that led to the tying goal, and Kevan Miller played a strong return game. After missing the first 19 games to recover from a shoulder surgery, Miller was expected to not be a star defenseman out of the gate, but he played well. It wasn’t a mind-blowing, total lockdown defensive game, but there really wasn’t much he did wrong. For his first game of the year, this low-end defenseman’s game, was an up.

3. Only 3 Goals Against –

You can’t use Chara as a scapegoat for bad play, but I think we were all sort of expecting a bad game from Boston. Chara is their “rock” no matter what anybody thinks. Sure, he may be far past his prime, and do more bad than good now, but he’s still an intimidating man to play against. He gets in your head, simply because of his incredible size. The intimidation factor is what makes him great, not his play. Without that intimidation and experience, Boston was vulnerable last night. We saw last year what happens when Chara is out of the line-up (6 Goals Against on opening-night), so for this to only be a 3-1 game, not bad.

 

3 DOWNS:

1. Losing on Thanksgiving –

Well, it’s not ideal. Boston went in representing Massachusetts last night, meaning they represented the home of the first “Thanksgiving.” By default, they are expected to win, especially a game in Canada, on an American holiday. Why this atrocity of a scheduling decision was made in the first place is definitely up for questioning, but that doesn’t change the fact that Massachusetts and the USA were embarrassed last night by the play of the Bruins. Disgusting.

2. Has Anybody Seen Our Offense Lately? – 

Seriously, have you? Because I think they packed up and took a few days off. One goal against Ottawa? Are you serious? Ottawa has a middle of the pack defense, also known as the kind of defense Boston has enjoyed lighting up this year. Yet only David Pastrnak was able to gather any sort of scoring touch last night. I thought defense was our problem, but now the offense appears to be letting us down as well.

3. Tuukka Rask –

It pains me to say it, but Tuukka Rask’s hot start, may be over. Giving up 3 goals in each of his last 2 starts, Rask just hasn’t looked like the same goalie that started the year. Maybe it’s just bad luck, and he’ll bounce back, but it doesn’t look very promising. I’m not saying that giving up 3 goals each for a 2 game span is a bad thing, but when you look at the streak of one or no goal games he had, three goals seems very large.

 

3 TAKEAWAYS –

  1. David Pastrnak sits with 11 goals and 4 assists, totaling 15 points, in 15 games played.
  2. Kevan Miller made his season debut last night, and looked alright. Give him a week, and I have no doubt he will be one of the key players on the blue line.
  3. John-Michael Liles and Brandon Carlo picked up the slack in Chara’s absence, leading the team with 20:09 and 20:00 minutes, respectively. They were the only defensemen to not see a goal scored while on the ice.

 

3 STARS:

1. Kyle Turris (C-OTT)

2. Mark Stone (RW-OTT)

3. Bobby Ryan (LW-OTT)

Chara’s First-Period Injury Costs Bruins, Blues Pick Up Victory

Chara leaves ice early as Blues fall 4-2 ahead of Thanksgiving

In the first period, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara went down with a lower-body injury, and did not return to action. This left Boston with just 5 defenseman, and without their “top” guy. The younger guys were forced to step it up on the spot, and ultimately were unable to climb the 6’9″ mountain in front of them. St. Louis would take advantage, scoring 3 goals in the second, and an empty-netter in the third to clinch a 4-2 victory.

 

The first period started out pretty good for Boston, as David Backes, former St. Louis star,

625155352_slide
Backes celebrates with Moore following opening goal (courtesy: Getty Images)

scored against his former team on the power play to give Boston a lead. The goal was only Backes’ 4th of the year, but it had to be a very satisfying goal to have scored. David Krejci factored in as the secondary assist, his 10th of the year. That mark him just one assist behind Brad Marchand for the team lead in assists. Torey Krug picked up his 5th assist on the Backes goal.

In the second, playing without Big Z, Boston struggled defensively. 3 goals were scored by St. Louis in a span of 13 minutes. After the first St Louis goal, which was unsuccessfully challenged, Dominic Moore scored a shorthanded goal to give Boston a second chance at playing with a lead. Both Boston goals were scored on special teams, which isn’t all that interesting, but what is interesting is the fact that one came on a power play, and the other was shorthanded. Boston, though, was unsuccessful in defending the lead, and left the second trailing 3-2. After an empty net goal in the 3rd, Boston left the Garden in defeat, dropping to 11-8-0.

 

3 UPS:

1. SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! – 

Boston put 41 shots to the net of St. Louis last night. They did all they could to try and get the W from the offensive zone, but it just wasn’t enough. Jake Allen was an absolute stud in front of the Blues’ net, allowing only 2 of the 41 in. This isn’t the first time Boston has taken 40+ shots on net, as it happened against Colorado in a 2-0 win last week. Coincidentally, both games have seen Boston score only 2 goals.

2. Backes Scored – 

625155200_slide
Backes scores against his old team (Courtesy: Getty Images)

It’s been a while since David Backes has scored. Well, it feels like it anyway. It was nice to see the major off-season pickup score in his first game against his former team. Perhaps when these two teams meet again, this time in front of a St. Louis crowd, Backes’ emotions will be even further escalated, and he’ll elevate his game to a new level. Either way, seeing him score last night was a welcomed sight.

3. Without Chara, They Still Looked Okay –

Look, I know playing without Chara hurt the team in the second, but they had a very solid third period. The only goal St. Louis scored was an empty netter, and they didn’t really have too many chances. Give this team a few days to adjust, and we may see a defensive unit that doesn’t need to rely on Chara. I’m cautiously optimistic about this injury.

 

3 DOWNS:

1. Chara Hurt, Already Declared Out Thursday –

I know I just came from saying this injury isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not ideal. Losing your “number one” isn’t ever a good situation. This injury may have long-term benefits, but in the short run, we may still be in danger. The fact that he was already declared inactive for tomorrow night, tells us that this is no light injury either. We may not see Chara for one to two weeks. Nothing has been said to lead us to believe that this injury is a 4-6 week or beyond, and right now, it appears as though he will be day-to-day for some time.

2. Torey Krug –

Despite factoring in on the Backes goal, Krug had a very poor game. This is something we haven’t really seen from him this season. Despite getting a lot of flack from fans on social media, Krug’s play has been quite solid. He’s much different than the guy we saw a few seasons ago, now playing a more defense-oriented game, rather than the guy pushing the puck. Plus, he’s paired with Adam McQuaid every game, what do you want from him?

3. 3 Goal Second Period –

Yeah, Chara was hurt and the team wasn’t ready for it, but that’s not an excuse for giving up 3 even-strength goals in a period. I hate second periods, man.

 

3 Takeaways:

  1. David Pastrnak and Kevan Miller are both expected back in action on Thanksgiving
  2. Backes scored in front of his old team, totally disproving my pre-game report. Thanks.
  3. Once again, the Bruins-Blues game was one of the best ones so far. These teams always put on a magical performance against each other

 

3 STARS:

1. Jake Allen (G-STL)

2. Colton Parayko (D-STL)

3. David Backes (RW-BOS)

 

What did you think of the game? Are you worried about Chara’s injury? What do you think of BOSTON playing in CANADA on AMERICAN THANKSGIVING? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to share this post with friends! B’s lose 4-2!

Keys to the Game: St. Louis Blues @ Boston Bruins

The winged-quarter notes fly into Boston tonight, in the first of two encounters this year between the Bruins and the Blues. The last few years, this game, when the Blues come to the Garden (not so much the other way around), has been in my top 5. Whether low-scoring or high, the games are full of action and physicality, and I expect tonight to be no different. I’m a bit short on time so how about we jump right into tonight’s 3 keys to the game? Ready? Let’s go.

 

Quick notes:

David Pastrnak (day-to-day: undisclosed) will miss game number 3 in a row. He will be missed.

David Backes is playing in his first game against his former team, tonight. Look for him to play with emotion.

 

3 Keys:

1. Find an Offensive Spark –

They’ve done a pretty good job the last few games, them being the Bruins, of scoring enough goals to look better than they actually are. Doing this without Pastrnak was tough against Minnesota, but the team found their stride against Winnipeg, en rout to a 4-1 win (I’m so sick of being within one goal of getting it right). Tonight, against a team that is no slouch, Boston needs to keep hitting what they found Saturday and put the puck in the net.

2. Keep Backes’ Minutes Down – 

He can play, for sure, but with this being against his former team, and a team he stayed with for a very long time, no less, he’s going to be a bit emotional. When you play with your  heart and not your head, you make mistakes. Now, I’m probably wrong and he’ll end up playing 19 minutes and score a hatty, but I think keeping his usage to a minimum could benefit Boston in the long run of this game.

3. THUMP THUMP DE-FENSE! THUMP THUMP DE-FENSE – 

St. Louis is by no means a stellar team, offensively, but that doesn’t mean they can’t score. They do have more total goals than Boston, albeit playing one extra game, but they aren’t a great team. Both of them are at the bottom half of the leaderboard. This will likely be low-scoring, meaning Boston’s defense needs to step up and have another Winnipeg-like performance. A good defensive unit equals less work the offense has to do.

 

Prediction: STL 1-3 BOS

 

That’s my take on the game, and now I want to hear yours. Let me know your thought’s ahead of tonight’s game in the comments. Don’t forget to share with your friends to get their take as well. GO B’S

 

TRIVIA: When did David Backes play his first game for the Blues?

Adam McQuaid Proves Once Again That He Is A Waste Of A Roster Spot As Bruins Fall To Wild 1-0

Okay, I’m going to start this by saying, as much as this is a post-game review, I’m mainly going to talk about how much I despise Adam McQuaid! Can we just trade him, already? Why did we give him the long-term contract over a Dougie Hamilton or any player with talent? GOD! Last night he proved once again that he does not belong on NHL ice. We were involved in a very tight, entertaining game against Minnesota, 0-0 in the last minute, when McQuaid made a bonehead decision to stand at the far post. He had just been knocked down and appeared hurt, although looking at it I think he was trying to get a whistle, and when he got back up, he camped on Rask’s right. Seeing an opportunity, Mikael Granlund made a “pass” across the crease, bouncing off Adam McQuaid’s skate and into the net. -_-   McQuaid has zero goals for us this year, but he sure loves scoring for other teams. This isn’t the first time in his career he’s deflected the puck in, or had his mistake cost us games. WAKE UP SWEENEY!

Rest of the team was great and here’s the recap of the first game to truly piss me off this year.

3 UPS:

1. Tuukka – 

Once again Tuukka Rask gives up a goal that was not his fault. This time, it earned him a loss. Just his second of the year. How do you feel, McQuaid??? I hope you thank God every day, for the day that he blinded the Bruins front office into signing your contract. Anyway, Rask made a bevvy of great saves, stuffing many odd-man rushes and making key saves at key times. But nobody is prepared to be shot at by a teammate.

2. Great 60 Minutes – 

Not you, Adam. All three periods were tightly-contested, and Boston looked very good coming off the 3-day break. This was a welcoming sight, as the B’s havce struggled to put full game efforts together many a time this year. Last night, though, they played a full game. I was quite happy with the performance. Well, for 18/19 players.

3. Good Puck Movement –

It was very fluid and created many chances, specifically on the power play. Had Devan Dubnyk not played like Devan Dubnyk plays, we’d have won that game. Many triangle plays, mini 2-on-1 chances, point-to-point plays, it was great to watch.

 

3 DOWNS:

1. Adam McQuaid – 

No, I’m not kidding!

2. Adam McQuaid – 

Yes, I’m really doing it.

3. Adam McQuaid – 

Told ya.

 

3 Stars:

1. Devan Dubnyk (G-MIN)

2. Tuukka Rask (G-BOS)

3. The Timekeepers Who Kept Up With The Absurd Amount Of Penalties Called, Ugh

Bruins Return From 3-Days Off To Face Wild

8:00 on NESN

For the first time in 3 days, Bruins’ hockey is finally returning, and all is right with the world again. Boston improved to 10-6-0 on Sunday in Colorado with a 2-0 win over the Av’s. In there first game since then, Boston hits the ice in  Minnesota to take on the Wild, who absolutely annihilated the B’s on home ice last month. Back when Rask was hurt, the Wild rolled into TD Garden and scored 5 goals in a shutout victory. Boston is now a much better team defensively, and Rask is healthy, so we’ll see if this game is any different.

 

Pastrnak Out:

David Pastrnak has missed the last few days of practice, and has been ruled out for tonight’s game. It is not really known the extent of his injury, but the league’s second-best goal scorer is going to be watching from the press box tonight. Riley Nash is slated to ride shotgun on the Marchand-Bergeron line, in Pastrnak’s place. Nash only has one goal but has shown, when he isn’t playing with Hayes, that he is top-6 potential.

Minnesota Struggling:

Not from a record standpoint, but as a team, they are struggling. The offense has scored 2+ goals in only 2 of their last 6 games, and have been shutout twice in that span. With Rask playing the way he is, it should keep Minnesota’s low-scoring streak alive. Without, Pastrnak, it is better for the Bruins to face a low-powered offense where they will not need to light up the scoreboard, and just need to play a smart game.

3 Days of Rest:

Boston has not played in 3 whole days (4 by the time the puck drops). Hopefully, this means we will see a rejuvenated and energetic team in the first period. They had been playing at an incredibly high rate, and looked tired in the Arizona-Colorado back-to-back. The extra days of practice must have been a good thing too. It should have allowed Boston to work on some weak areas of their game (Power Play, Defense, etc.). But, knowing the past, we will probably have a rusty start to this game, and end up behind after the first.

 

3 Keys:

 

1. Fast Start – 

Boston, as mentioned, is coming off a 3 day break. Minnesota, however, is playing their 5th game in 8 days, and their 4th in 6. Boston needs to exploit this by pushing the pace early, and tiring out the Minnesota defense.

2. 3rd Line Needs to Step Up – 

Without Pastrnak, the Bruins need to find production from their lower lines. Specifically the 3rd. The 3rd line, no matter the combination, has been the least productive group this season. If they’re going to win tonight, they’re going to need to step up.

3. Forget About Being Shutout –

The Bruins need to put the 5-0 shutout last month out of their minds tonight. There were many circumstances beyond the Bruins control that contributed to the loss. Tonight, only Pastrnak’s injury stands in the way. Rask is healthy, the defense is good, and we aren’t playing at home. We can win.

 

PROJECTED LINE-UPS

Marchand-Bergeron-Nash

Spooner-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

Hayes-Schaller-Kuraly

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Liles-Miller

 

Rask

McIntyre

 

MY LINE-UP

Marchand-Bergeron-Czarnik

Spooner-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Kuraly

Schaller-Moore-Hayes

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-Miller

Liles-McQuaid

 

Rask

McIntyre

 

Prediction: BOS 3-1 MIN

With the struggling Minnesota offense, and Rask playing like he is, it’s almost guaranteed to be low-scoring.

 

What do you think of tonight’s game? Can Boston win or am I blindly optimistic? Let me know in the comments and share with others to get their opinions.

 

Trivia: Who won the 2001 Art Ross Trophy?