R.I.P. Original Six- Chicago Blackhawks

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With the trade deadline come and gone, the NHL season is coming to a close.  By now the standings have pretty much been set, with teams grappling for the final playoff seeds.  This brings me to the Original Six.  Currently, there are just 2 Original Six teams sitting in playoff positions.  The Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs sit in second, and third in the Atlantic Division respectively.   Both are young, fast, and poised to make deep runs in the postseason.

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After those two, it is a disaster.  Old powers are starting to slip, as two Original Six franchises sit in last place in their respective divisions.  The biggest being the Chicago Blackhawks.

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The above image is a familiar sight for Hawks fans.  They have won three Stanley Cups since 2010.  That’s right, three.  In the Salary Cap era this is unheard of.   To top it all off, the Blackhawks were coming off their darkest era in Franchise History.  From 2000-2009 nobody fucking cared about the Blackhawks.  They were not bad enough to draft highly rated prospects, and they toiled in mediocrity.  Finally they caught a break.  In 2006 the Hawks finished with the second worst record in the Western Conference.  This earned them the right to pick 3rd overall.  That selection was Jonathan Toews.  Toews has dawned the “C” while hoisting three Cups.

The following year the Hawks finished dead last in the Central Division, earning the right to pick first overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.  That selection turned into none other than Patrick Kane.

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The foundation of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook was built and ready to win Championships.  Win Championships they did, beating the Flyers, Bruins, and Lightning in the Cup Final.  After the first Cup the Hawks had to start locking up their core pieces long-term.  Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed identical eight year $84 million dollar extensions in 2014.  Kane has lived up to this extension up until this point.  He is a top line winger, and one of the best pure goal scorers in the league.  When it’s all said and done, Kaner will be considered one of the best American Born players of all time.  Jonathan Toews on the other hand has not lived up to this massive extension.

Toews is a Center in the model of Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, or Aleksander Barkov.  He’s a two-way beast, who can score with the best of them.  Up until 2014 Toews was a 60-70 point player.  Since his massive extension his play  has dropped off.  2015-2016 saw him amass 58 points total, and he reached the same clip in 2016-2017.   He has not been playing at an elite level for two plus years, and that contract is just abysmal.  Not saying they should trade Toews, because besides number 1 Defenseman, number one Center is nearly as hard to find/replace.

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While the Toews contract sucks, the biggest mistake the Hawks made was re-signing Brent Seabrook.  Seabrook was re-signed to a 8 year $55 million dollar contract extension in 2015.  Seabrook has been a regular on the Hawks Blueline since 2005-06 before Kane and Toews.  Seabrook was so valuable Blackhawks over the years.  Duncan Keith anchored the first d-pairing  with another shutdown Defeseman, and Seabrook would anchor the second pair.  The Hawks could mix and match pairs, and even pair the two together for a beast shutdown pairing.  Not to mention they had  Niklas Hjalmarsson, who would rotate between playing with Keith and Seabrook.

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The worst part of his contract is, there are No Movement Clauses attached.  This means Seabrook can veto trades to teams not on a hand picked list of his choosing.  He has this no movement clause until 2022.  It’s contracts like the three highlighted above that put the Blackhawks where they are now.

Dead last place with aging core players,  bad contracts, and sub-par role players.  Every single season we see the Hawks trading away big pieces that they cannot afford to keep.  Brandon Saad was traded to Columbus after the 2015 Cup run for a younger Artemi Panarin, who exploded onto the scene as a premier young goal scorer alongside Patrick Kane.  This past summer saw the Blackhawks trade Panarin BACK to Columbus for…Brandon Saad.  Why did they make this trade?  Well, they couldn’t afford to keep Panarin any longer, and they hoped bringing Saad back would ignite Toews again.  Panarin continues to be a 60-70 point player, whereas Saad will be lucky to sniff 50 points this season.

So, how can the Hawks remedy their current situation?  This one is going to be difficult.  There are players that simply cannot be moved via trade, because of declining play, and shitty contracts.  Stan Bowman is going to have to move whatever pieces he can for draft picks.  In a Bruins type re-build on the fly, they need picks, picks, picks, and more picks.  Build around the core of players already there.  While they may be declining now, who’s to say Toews doesn’t bounce back?  Who’s to say Saad can’t recapture his goal scoring touch.  Start inserting more youth into lineup to to supplement the core.

They started off well by trading Ryan Hartman for a first round pick,  I’ll look for the Hawks to be active moving pieces for draft picks, and prospects this off-season.   Will this Original Six giant bounce back, or will they wilt into irrelevancy like the 2000-2008 Blackhawks?

Au Revoir.

The Montreal Canadiens travelled to TD Garden last night for the final time in 2018. The teams played three times in 8 days in mid-January, which the Bruins took all 3 games. The Canadiens are just horrible. Each game they play the Bruins, it’s just listless. This one was not much different. Tuukka Rask took a seat on the pine omg for this one, and Carey Price sat for Antti Niemi.

The story of this one came just 37 seconds into the game:

Rookie Defenseman, Charlie McAvoy left the game after getting tripped up. This would be a huge loss if he misses extended time. Not going to speculate what the injury is, but it’s definitely a foot, ankle, leg issue. Unfortunate play, and hope to god the franchise is ok.

Much like the majority of the Bruins vs. Habs matchups this season, this one was a snoozer. With half of the first period gone, Kevan Miller saw his pass intercepted by Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens. Gallagher walked in, and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. 1-0 Canadiens.

After this point, the Canadiens stopped playing. The Bruins completed dominated, creating prime scoring chances left and right. Antti Niemi made a staggering 48 saves. Without him, this would have been an ugly scoreline.

Finally, 17 minutes into the third period, Jake Debrusk re-directed a slap pass from Defenseman Nick Holden past Niemi. It was finally a 1-1 game.

The Overtime Period saw the Bruins toy with the hapless Canadiens. The Bruins skated, and passed the puck at will. The Habs were dog tired, when Brad Marchand took a tour of the offensive zone with the puck. Finally getting to the high slot, he fired a puck past Niemi to win the game.

The Bruins take the season series from the Canadiens 4-0. Be more pathetic Montreal, you can’t. In all seriousness, there is a very long re-build ahead up there. The leading point getter up there has 40 points. It’s March 4th. Just a complete joke. I hope it’s a long, miserable, painful, sickening, and difficult road back for that decrepit franchise.

Glad the Bruins continued their strong play. This win gives them 3 in a row since getting spanked by Buffalo. Let’s hope Charlie McAvoy is OK, but it seems for the first time in years, the Bruins have depth to deal with an injury god forbid. Next up the Bruins take on the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Another Atlantic Division foe, who is absolutely miserable. Should be another 2 points. As always, let’s go Bruins.

What a Night at TD Garden.

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Thursday saw the Pittsburgh Penguins invade TD Garden.  The defending Stanley Cup Champions left on the short end of an 8-4 scoreline. Make no mistake about it, this was a statement win from the Bruins.  The past few weeks the red hot pace the team was playing at had cooled a bit, which is to be expected in an 82 game season.  This past Saturday, the Bruins lost a in heartbreaking fashion to Toronto, which saw the leafs take over second place in the Atlantic Division.  The very next day saw the Buffalo Sabres crush the B’s 4-1.  Reeling a bit, the Bruins gutted out a 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes.  Last night saw the Bruins return to their dominant form.

Earlier in the week the Bruins were dealt a dose of bad news.  Number 1 center, Patrice Bergeron was sidelined with a fractured foot.  He will miss 2 weeks minimum, and this has opened the door for some new faces.  Last night against Pittsburgh two players made their Bruins debut.

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Nick Holden skated in his first action as a Bruin playing on the third D pair with Kevan Miller.  Holden slotted in for Rookie, Matt Grzelyck who took the game in from the 9th floor as a healthy scratch.

Veteran forward Brian Gionta made his Bruins debut in place of Danton Heinen, who needed to take a game in from the 9th floor as well. Gionta is coming straight from the Olympics, where he impressed enough to earn a pro contract win the Bruins.

It was the Penguins who struck first in this one, Olli Maatta fired a slapshot past Tuukka Rask just .35 seconds into the game.

Brutal start from the Bruins for fucks sake. Four guys caught staring at Evgeni Geno Malkin, who dished a cross-slot feed for Maatta to bury. The warning signs were all there that this would be a long night for the Bruins.

Luckily this years team doesn’t quit, or fall into a funk. The Bruins immediately put the pressure on the Penguins. Just 1:45 into the game Rick Nash stormed down the right wing, and slipped a backhand pass for David Krejci. Krejci was able to get his stick on the puck as he crashed into Pens goalie Casey DeSmith.

This is when the barrage began. David Pastrnak’s one-timer deflected off a casserole nonsense in front of DeSmith. The puck slowly trickled in to make it 2-1. (Boy does DeSmith blow). Riley Nash would be credited with the goal later on.

Just two and a half minutes later Rick Nash deflected a centering pass over the shoulder of DeSmith to make it 3-1. DeSmith was yanked from the game having only played a shade over 5 minutes.

After the Bruins quickly built a 2 goal cushion, Phil Kessel buried a short side goal on Tuukka Rask. Kessel got the puck below the goal line, fired off the back of Rask’s legs, and into the net. Brutal from Rask, who wasn’t covering his post properly.

A few minutes later, Brian Gionta fed David Backes on the Right Wing hashmarks. Backes took the feed and ripped a snap-shot top shelf. 4-2 Bruins with less than half the period remaining.

Tory Krug added a 5th goal with just over 2 minutes left to play in the first. Just when you thought the Bruins were going to get out of the period up 3, Riley Sheahan fired a slap-shot past Tuukka Rask with just 3 seconds remaining in the first. Pathetic goal to give up by Rask. Sheahan is a fourth line center, and should have no business firing a slapped past Rask if he can see it cleanly.

The start of the second period saw the Bruins take over. Bruins newcomer, Nick Holden fed David Krejci in front of the net with a beautiful pass, and Krejci slotted home his second of the night. Later on the power play ole’ yeller, Brian Gionta had the puck in front of Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry (who?). Gionta drew both Penguin defenders, and slid a backhanded no-look pass to a wide-open Krejci, who completed his hat trick.

David Pastrnak and Olli Maatta each added another goal making the score 8-4 Bruins.

In what was a spirited affair the Bruins put a beat down on the Penguins in a statement win. The biggest moment of the game wasn’t any of the barrage of goals scored by the black and gold. The game had gotten a bit chippy in the second period, and the Bruins were on the penalty kill. Zdeno Chara was on the ice for all 2 minutes of the kill, and played an additional 1:05 minutes when Jamie Oleksiak challenged him to a fight:

This is why Zdeno Chara still wears the “C” for the Boston Bruins. At 40 years old he played 3:05 minutes in a row, and tuned up a 6’7, 255 pound Oleksiak. Big Z can still play.

Overall, it was a massive victory for the Bruins, who still need to show they belong at the top of the standings. The additions Sweeney has made are fitting in beautiful. It should be an awesome stretch run. Let’s go Bruins!

2018 NHL Trade Deadline Round Up.

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Believe it or not, yesterday was the NHL trade deadline.  Unbelievable that we are already staring down the barrel of the NHL stretch run.  Throughout the course of the year a few teams have  separated themselves from the pack as Stanley Cup Contenders, and old powers are finding themselves “blowing it up” as the playoffs are likely out of reach.

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Here is where we sit coming down the stretch.  The biggest takeaway for myself personally is the fact the Original Six is a disaster.  Two of them are in dead last in their respective divisions.  After being a cup contender for the past 5-7 years, the Rangers have hit rock bottom.  This year was the year Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather finally decided it was time to start re-tooling.

This brings us to the first of many big moves of the trade deadline:

This trade was completed last Monday between the Bruins and Rangers.  Not a major blockbuster by any means, but the message was clear.  The Bruins would be adding pieces for a playoff run, and the Rangers would begin to sell off what they can for picks, and young assets.

As a Bruins fan I am somewhat indifferent regarding this trade.  Nick Holden sucks.  Plain and simple.  I have nightmares of Holden giving away multiple games during the 2017 playoffs.  Brutal giveaway after brutal giveaway.   He’s a depth Defenseman, who isn’t a fucking slug, so he can skate and move the puck fairly well.  He would need sheltered minutes, meaning playing favorable match-ups, Offensive Zone starts, etc.  We saw last year the Bruins ran out of gas in the postseason largely due to injuries.  They were down to their 8th-9th Defenseman, and Tommy Cross was playing meaningful playoff minutes.  Holden would be an upgrade in a situation like that.

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To Rob O’Gara.  I really liked Rob, and was certainly not too pleased to see him go.  The Rangers are getting a solid Defenseman that should develop into an NHL regular.  He’s had a few cups of coffee with the Bruins, but was mostly a mainstay in Providence.  He’s solid.  Nothing flashy with O’Gara, he’s going to block shots, kill penalties, and play physical.  A valuable piece for any NHL should he develop properly.

The Bruins were not even close to being done making moves to bolster their depth, and free up roster space.

Wednesday saw Donny Sweeney free up some cap space by trading Frank Vatrano.  It was time to move on from the UMass product.  Vatrano stormed onto the scene scoring 36 goals in his first 36 AHL games in 2015-2016.  That goal scoring touch never translated to the NHL level.  Frankie needs a bunch of time and space to pick his spot, and you’re just not getting that regularly in the NHL.  He’s still got a rocket shot, and decent skating ability.  He’s pretty “meh” in every other facet of the game.  The fact that he wasn’t traded for a conditional 7th or 6th round pick is beyond me.  Florida just handing out 3 round picks like candy.  Donny managed to regain a 3rd after sending one away for Holden.  Frankie will get a shot to play a regular shift down in Florida, as he just wasn’t good enough to crack the Bruins lineup this year.  We’ll see if a fresh start is what was needed.

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Coming off a brutal loss on Saturday, the Bruins were still not done adding to their roster.

Finally to the big one.  Don Sweeney pushed all of chips in and acquired veteran Power Forward, Rick Nash.  Nash is a big guy standing at 6’4, 220 lbs.  He will slot in on the Bruins second line centered by David Krejci.  This is a big move for the Bruins, and Rangers equally.  The Rangers off-loaded an aging veteran piece for assets.  They get back a roster player who could contribute right away in Spooner, and gain an additional 1st round pick.  The prospect is what it is.  Lindgren was more or less the 6th best Defense Prospect the B’s had.

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The Bruins add a guy that can bolster their top 6.  One of the few glaring holes on this team was Krejci’s wing.  Spooner was slotting in there, but he is a natural center.  Spooner had games where he looked fine playing the wing and would mesh well with Krejci.  Other nights he couldn’t care less, and was invisible.  Missing a chunk of time at the beginning of the year, Spoons has amassed 9 goals, 16 assists, and 25 points so far this season.

Rick Nash is a former perennial 30 goal scorer, who is starting to show his age.  The 33 year old is on the final year of his contract, and his point totals have slowly declined the past couple of years.  While he’s not leading the league scoring 41 goals anymore, he will still provide much needed secondary scoring.  Hopefully playing for his last NHL contract, and a shot at the cup will motivate Nash.

 

Now on to deadline day itself.  There were a lot of deals made towards the final the hour.  I am not going to breakdown each one, but I thought I would highlight the most important ones.  A full list of deadline day transactions can be found here.

First and foremost the Ryan McDonagh trade.  The Rangers continued their fire sale by shipping off their team captain to Tampa Bay.

This trade right here settles the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.  While the Bruins were knocking at the door, and adding Rick Nash, the Lightning decided to drag their nuts across Sweeney’s forehead.  Adding Ryan McDonagh is just, well it’s just unfair.  The Lightning’s Top 4 Defeseman are: Norris Trophy Candidate Victor Hedman, Rookie of year Candidate Mikhail Sergachev, and ole’ reliable Anton Stralman.  That is far and away the best D-corps in the Eastern Conference, and will likely bolster their chances of landing the number 1 seed.

The Rangers did fairly well in the return.  Namestnikov is a young skilled forward, who is NHL ready.  He’s got 44 points so far this year, posting 20 goals, and 24 assists.  The two prospects (Howden, Hajek) are solid, and by all accounts seen as B/B+ prospects.  This was a fair haul for McDonagh on his own, and I am still scratching my head as to why J.T. Miller was involved.  The Rangers tossed him in there for free.  Miller is a young gritty forward who is fast, and can play both Wing and Center.  With 13 goals, and 27 assists on the year, the Rangers basically sold off Miller a 40 point guy for free.  Miller will be a valuable depth piece for the Cup run.

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To another Original Six City we go! The first big-ish trade of the day came from two divisional rivals in the Central Division.

Sitting in a similar position as the New York Rangers, the Blackhawks are beginning to sell off pieces.  Bad contracts galore in Chicago.  It will be harder to blow it up there versus New York largely because of albatross contract after albatross contract.  Familiar names like Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, and Jonathen Toews have immovable contracts.  Which cannot be said for the assets the Rangers traded away.  Even so, the Hawks were able to move a piece to Nashville.

Ryan Hartman was sent to Nashville for two draft picks, and Victor Ejdsell.  Edjsell is a prospect playing over in the Swedish Elite League.  He is projected to have a solid NHL future ahead of himself.  Obviously the main prize here for Chicago is the 1st round pick.  Stan Bowman had dealt away prospects and picks chasing down a 4th Stanley Cup, and fell short.  Similar to the Bruins, the Blackhawks will have to, “rebuild on the fly”.  This would mean acquiring any picks and prospects you can for expiring contracts, while keeping the main core in place.

From Nashville’s perspective, I guess it’s a solid deal?  Hartman is having a down year this year.  In 2016-17 he finished the season with 19 goals, 12 assists,  and 31 points.  So far through 57 games  he’s got 8 goals, 17 assists, and 25 points.  I certainly wouldn’t be shelling out a 1st round pick for him.  He’s a solid depth scorer only in his second full NHL season, so there is time to develop.  To go with the ability to score, Hartman brings an edge to his game.  He plays the agitator role, and we all know how crucial those guys can be come playoff time.

Once the Hartman trade went through, another Central Division rival was making a bit of a surprising move:

This one came as a bit of a shocker, as the Blues are only 2 points out of the final Wild Card spot in the West.  Two years in a row the Blues were on the outside of the playoff picture at the deadline, and sold off a major piece.  In 2017 it was Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals, this year Paul Stastny to Winnipeg.

From a Jets perspective I like the player they acquired.  They are looking to make a run, and wanted shore up their center depth.  Stastny is perfect for them.  They have the game’s most unnoticed superstars in Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, and now Paul Stastny as their top 3 centers.  Not bad at all.  Stastny is a Center in the Patrice Bergeron mold.  He’s good in the face-off circle, defensively, and can score when needed.  He’s not nearly as good as Bergy offensively, defensively, or in the face-off circle, but he will be a quality veteran piece for a team that has made the playoffs once since 2012.   I would NOT have given up a first round pick for Stastny.  While he is a good player, a first plus a prospect is a high price to pay.  By all accounts, Erik Foley is a highly rated prospect at the NCAA level this season.  For all the big guns traded these past few days, Stastny was the most surprising by far, and will be interesting to see how he fits in with the Jets.

Moving further out West, Las Vegas made it’s first ever Trade Deadline Day move:

This trade will likely get a shit ton of love in the Media, mostly because Vegas is the leagues darling.  Vegas is sitting at the top of the Pacific Division for reasons that cannot be explained.  When you get this far you kinda have to, “go for it”.  I understand that and all, but this takes the cake as the worst trade of the deadline.

Tatar is a good player, who up until this year was a regular 50-60 point getter.  This year his numbers have declined, as Detroit sucks.  This year he has a measly 16 goals, 12 assists, for 28 points total.  There is absolutely no reason to be shelling out a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks.  As a team that is approaching its second draft EVER, it’d probably be wise to hang on to draft picks, no? Tatar will give Vegas some more pop for sure, as that forward group is bone dry in terms of pure goal scoring.

This is yet another Original Six Franchise attempting to rebuild, and Detroit got a HAUL.  They are a team that prides itself of drafting and developing talent, so those three picks will come up huge when re-stocking the cupboard.

 

 

Late in the day, another Pacific Division team was selling off an expiring contract:

Edmonton is now officially out of the playoff race, which is just fantastic.  A team that has drafted 1st overall 3 times in the past 10 years.  The latest being Connor McDavid the NHL’s darling boy.  Last year Edmonton made a run into the second round of the playoffs. They were actually considered a favorite to be hoisting Lord Stanley in June.  Instead, this man…

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ruined any chance Edmonton had at building a playoff contender.  First, he traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.  Hall was the number 1 pick of the 2011 entry draft.  He’s now a major contributor on Devils playoff team.  Larsson is a solid top 4 Dman, but Taylor Hall is an elite goal scorer.  Who needs those Chia?  He traded Matthew Barzal (Rookie of the Year Candidate) for Griffin Reinhart, a Defenseman for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.  He handed out a 6 year, $7 million dollar contract to 29 year old Milan Lucic.  A contract that will hamper Edmonton until it expires.  He signed center, Leon Draisaitl to an 8 year $68 million dollar contract worth $8.5 million per year. Now, Draisaitl is damn good.  Someday he will be worth every penny of that contract, but this was his FIRST contract coming off his rookie deal.  Teams almost always opt for a bridge contract, and then dish out the cash.  Chia said fuck it, and handed ALL the money to Draisaitl.  But wait!  There’s more, Chiarelli signed Connor McDavid to an 8 year $100 million dollar contract extension.  This won’t kick in until 2019, but once it does the annual cap hit will be $13.5 million.  Let me preface this by saying Connor McDavid is worth every penny of that contract.  Has Chiarelli not learned from his time in Boston?  Has he not seen what the Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews contracts have done to Chicago?  They cannot afford to keep their good secondary scorers/role players because they are so salary cap strapped. Edmonton is going backwards fast, they should probably be considering canning Chiarelli by now.

Anyway, enough ranting about Chiarelli.  Edmonton sent an expiring contract in Patrick Maroon to New Jersey in exchange for a prospect, and 3rd round pick.  New Jersey gets a big bodied goal scorer who can play anywhere in your lineup.  Maroon is coming off two solid years, but is likely a product of Connor McDavid.  Last year he amassed 27 goals, a career high by a wide margin.  New Jersey essentially gave up nothing for him, as by all accounts the prospect included (J.D. Dudek) would not even be signed to a rookie contract by the Devils.  Maroon’s point total is not where it was last year, bit he still has 14 goals, 16 assists, and 30 total points.  Head scratching move from the Bald Bandit Chiarelli.

Image result for Peter Chiarelli idiotThe last real big move came from San Jose:

Buffalo traded Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks for a 2019 1st round pick, 2020 2nd round pick, and Dan O’Regan an NCAA prospect.  Solid trade for both teams involved.  It was time for the Sabres to move on from Kane.  On paper, Buffalo has a team that should be competing with Boston and Toronto for the Atlantic division.  They are the exact opposite.  They spend almost every season in the cellar, even with Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Rielly, Kyle Okposo, and Rasmus Ristolainen.  Buffalo needed to unload an expiring contract, as they were likely not going to re-sign Kane.

San Jose adds an elite forward to their top 6 for the stretch run.  Kane is a polarizing player, mostly due to off the ice issues, but he’s still an elite talent.  Sitting at 40 points, he will be a nice goal scorer to take passes from Jumbo Joe Thornton.  San Jose did not have to give up their 2018 first, which should be considered a win.  Both teams make out well with this trade.

The biggest story was Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.  A superstar Defenseman in Ottawa.  The Senators explored trading him to Vegas, Washington, and a few other places.  Nothing worked out, and Ottawa will attempt to extend him before the draft in June.  I’m sure Senator fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Karlsson being traded would have sent major shockwaves throughout the league. Seems like trading for him mid-season would be stupid, because he completely changes the dynamic of that particular team so much, it’s probably be more beneficial to wait for the draft.

Overall it was an exciting day/week. Most of the moves were reported in the final hour, but boy was it worth it.  NHL trade deadline, and July 1st Free Agency are my two favorite days of each calendar year. Here’s why. As always, Lets go Bruins!!

Bruins Beat 1/4

The Boston Bruins opened up the 2018 Calendar year in spectacular fashion. The boys would kick the shit out of the Islanders 5-1. Great start to the new year indeed. Like many games recently, this wasn’t much of a contest.

The Islanders came into the game in a playoff position. Given how tough the Metropolitan Division that could change quickly. Once again, this game had scheduled loss written all over it. Random Tuesday night game in Brooklyn. Just didn’t have the feel of Bruins victory.

As they have for most of the season, the Bruins proved me wrong. From the drop of the puck they seemed to have their legs. They applied a relentless forecheck with all 4 lines early. At 8:17 of the first period, Danton Heinen ripped a wrist shot over the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak. The goal came from Riley Nash winning a face-off right back to Heinen, who slotted it home. 1-0 Bruins in the first.

Just over a minute later, the Bruins would be victimized similarly to the Islanders. Off. Brandon Carlo got the puck in front of Tuukka Rask off a defensive zone face-off. Carlo ended up having a car wreck, falling down, and kicking the puck in front of the net. Jordan Eberle hopped on the gift, and put it home

The first period would come to a close at 1-1. Carlo’s blunder had undermined what was a great first period from the Bruins. In the second, the B’s continued to hound the puck. Most notably, the fourth line. Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly. A group of JAGS, but damn good ones. Kuraly in particular due to his speed, and relentlessness. This line made the Islanders look foolish all night. They drew multiple penalties on the Islanders, and 8:28 into the second, Patrice Bergeron batted home a wrap around goal to make it 2-1 Bruins. Perfect Patrice was behind his own net, caught the puck that bounced over the crossbar, put it down, and wrapped home short side. Perfect Patrice strikes again.

The game was 2-1 until mid-way through the third period. David Pastrnak stripped the puck from Cal Clutterbuck in the neutral zone. It created a 2 on 1, which Pasta beautifully sold a shot. Pasta slipped a pass over to Marchand, who ripped the puck home to make it 3-1 Bruins. Tim Schaller, and Noel Acciari would each notch a goal to ice the game. 5-1 win for the Bruins.

Tuesday was a night for the fourth line. They hounded the puck all night, and made life hell for Islander defenders. Each member isn’t afraid to use their body to make a few plays. They can also chip in on the scoresheet. Can’t find a better 4th line in the league right now.

Wednesday saw the Bruins assign forward, Anders Bjork to the Providence Bruins.

Bjork was the odd man out here, as he had been on the 9th floor in street clothes since David Krejci returned to the lineup. This was the right move to make for the kid. Let him go down, and play top minutes at the Dunk. Providence has been instrumental in the development of Debrusk, Heinen, and Pastrnak. Bjork will find his way back to Boston in no time.

Tonight’s game against Atlantic Division foe, Florida Panthers has been cancelled due to the horrid storm. The Boys will get a few extra days of rest, as their next game will see the Carolina Hurricanes come to TD Garden. Puck drop 7:00 pm on Saturday. Let’s go Bruins!!!

Bruins Beat 1/2

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The Boston Bruins ended their 2017 Calendar year with an impressive 5-0 shutout win over the “dead from the neck up” Ottawa Senators.  It was the second time the Bruins had played them this week alone.  Saturday night they played the Sens in their barn, Canadian Tire Centre. The outcome of the game was the exact same however, a fucking beat down.

The first period saw both teams come out with some jump.  The Senators were matching the Bruins scoring chances in the first.  8:13 into the first Ottawa Native, Ryan Spooner banged home a rebound to make it 1-0 Bruins.

Overall good puck movement on the power play.  They found Krejci for a hard slapshot threw traffic from the point.  Anderson couldn’t handle it, and Spooner was there to clean up the trash.  With David Krejci coming back, it looks as if the Bruins will get a much needed boost on the Power Play.

At 3:23 of the second period, Noel Acciari made it 2-0 Bruins.  The onslaught was on, when Ryan Spooner scored his second goal of the game. It came just two minutes after Acciari scores the Bruins second. Spooner won a puck race in the neutral zone, then beat Ben Harpur to the front of the cage.  It was 3-0 Bruins.

The Bruins added two more power play goals in the third from returning center, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron. Tuukka Rask notched another shutout, and was named the NHL’s Player of the Month for December.

The game was honestly over long before the two third period goals.  Acciari’s goal to make it 2-0 in the second took the wind out of the Senator’s sails.  They then decided to not give a fuck for the next 18-19 minutes of play.  When all is going well for Ottawa, they play what is called a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap.  It is the most garbage form of play.  Basically just slowly surround the puck in the neutral zone, until there is a giveaway.  Rather than forecheck in the offensive zone, guys hold back to play the fucking trap.

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Senators coach, Guy Boucher is famous for employing this tactic.  The defending team lines three guys across their own defensive blue line, and one forward plays the man with the puck in front of the three lined up defenders.  There is another defenseman that plays in his own zone behind the wall of three.  It clogs the whole neutral zone to a point in which teams can’t function against it.  Last season the 1-3-1 trap frustrated the shit out many teams, including the Bruins.  It is a good system when guys are willing, and committed to playing that way.  The 2018 Senators do not care.  Last year, the B’s could barely get the puck into the offensive zone, against the Senators, and tonight they won 5-0.  They have outscored the Senators 9-1 in their match-ups.  Time to blow it up and get rid of the Bond Villain (Guy Boucher).

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Tonight, tune it to catch the B’s in Brooklyn to take on the New York Islanders.  The Islanders come in at 20-15-4 record. That is good for 44 points.  Right now, it’s towards the bottom of playoff seeding.  It is a playoff spot none the less.

Tuukka Rask will be between the sticks for the Bruins tonight.  Nothing has changed lineup wise, and why should it?  The game in Ottawa really showed how important David Krejci is to this team.  When he came back all of a sudden they started potting a few more chances on the powerplay, they have more overall depth, and Krech just makes players around him better.  He slows the game down to his pace, allowing his linemates get into dangerous shooting positions.  He’s got hands as soft as a feather.  He can make any pass on the ice, and is good in the face-off circle.  It has certainly been nice to have Krech back.  Here’s to hoping he can stay healthy.

Veteran Net-Minder Jaroslav Halak will be manning the cage for the Isles.  Bruins fans might not want to, but definitely keep an eye on Islanders Rookie Center, Matthew Barzal.  In 2014-15 the Bruins had a chance to draft him on three consecutive picks., and did not pick him.  It kind of stings, because Barzal has 13 goals, 23 assists, and 36 points in his rookie campaign.  He tops all rookies in points, and is 1 goal behind Arizona Coyote’s forward Clayton Keller for tops in goals.

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As always, let’s go Bruins!

Bruins Beat 12/29

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The Bruins traveled down to our Nation’s Capital to take on the Washington Capitals, in the tail end of a two games in two nights stretch.  The Bruins came in a staggering 0-12 in their last 12 match-ups against the Caps.  What do you know, they lost again.  This one was right there for the taking, but they just cannot put this team away.  Miscues at inopportune times really derailed hopes for victory.

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The Bruins came out, and immediately staked their claim on the game.  Just 1:43 into the game Riley Nash served David Backes a sweet spin-o-rama dish, and Backes snapped the puck home.  1-0 Bruins.  Things were looking even better when Noel Acciari banged home a wrap-around attempt to make it 2-0.  The Bruins came out of the gate hounding the puck, just like they had against Ottawa the night prior. Both goals were a result of a amped up forecheck.

Everything was going according to plan.  The Bruins were on their way to exercising Capital demons.  The play became more balanced in the second period.  You aren’t going to silence a team that has Kuznetsov, Oshie (Most overrated player in the league), Ovechkin, Carlson, and many more for long.   With 8 minutes to play in the second period Lars Eller, a noted Bruins killer since his days with the Canadiens got the Capitals on the board to make it 2-1.

The worst aspect of this goal was the fact that Eller was offside entering the offensive zone, and for some unknown reason the Bruins decided to not challenge it.  It was an absolute head scratching decision, because had they challenged the goal would have been waived off.   Things got worse, as just over a minute later Alex Ovechkin tied the game at two. It was an unstoppable shot by a great goal scorer.  Nothing Dobby could do.

Luckily, the Bruins survived the second period, keeping the score at 2 a-piece.  The teams continued to trade chances in the third period, when Danton Heinen found David Backes in the slot.  Backes snapped home the shot to make it 3-2 Bruins close to mid-way through the third period.

The Bruins tried their best to hold on-to the lead, but just couldn’t.  A mere 4 minutes after Backes’ goal, the Bruins were hemmed into their own zone.  The puck was in front of Dobby, with multiple players crashing into him.  Through the casserole of nonsense ex Bruins stiff, Brett Connolly slipped home the tying goal 3-3 was the score.  It would remain the same for the remainder of the third period.

^ Tom Wilson was originally credited with the tally, but was later changed to Brett Connolly^

The Teams would go scoreless in overtime, but traded some decent chances.  Dobby, and Holtby stood tall.  The game would go on to a shootout.  Dobby stopped Oshie and Kuznetsov in the first two rounds.  Holtby stoned Marchand, and Pastrnak.  Finally, Alex Ovechkin potted home his attempt in round three.  Instead of putting out McAvoy, Bergeron, Spooner, DeBrusk, Bjork, Heinen, Grzelyck, or anyone else, Cassidy trotted out Riley Nash.  Nash missed the net per usual.  Two points for the Capitals, and a tough defeat for the Bruins.  They did pick up 1 point in the loss.

Tough night for Bruins.  It looked as if they would finally break this horrid streak against the Caps, but for some reason, they just can’t.  It was another quiet night for the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line.  Seems as if Pasta, and Marchy were trying to do a bit too much with the puck all night long.  They had chances on 5 power plays, but couldn’t get a goal to extend the early 2-0 lead.

Torey Krug’s days should be numbered.  He is a small offensive d-man.  The problem with Krug this year is the offense is not there.  His d-zone play has been a train-wreck, and twice he lost the puck on the power play leading to Caps breakaways.  He is the worst player night in night out.   With McQuaid healthy I think it might be time for Torey to take in a few games from the 9th floor.

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The Bruins travel to Ottawa to take on the limp-dick Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.  Puck drop 7:00 pm EST. Look for a return of Center David Krejci, and or Adam McQuaid.

Bruins Beat 12/28

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Riley freaking Nash!! Last night, the Bruins welcomed the reeling Ottawa Senators to TD Garden.  The Black and Gold would not disappoint. Coming off the 3 day holiday break, I was a bit nervous.  The team had gone into the break with some serious mojo, and any sort of time-off would possibly disrupt that.  This is not the case for the 2017-2018 Bruins.  Bruce Cassidy seemingly won’t allow complacency.

Last season, Ottawa had made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and continued to make additions.  They added playoff tested d-man Johnny Oduya, and shockingly traded for Colorado Avalanche Center Matt Duchene.  It looked as if Ottawa was only going to get better.  What happened instead was major regression.  After looking like the best player in the world in 2017, Swedish D-man Erik Karlsson has had a bad year.  He is posting a -19 +/-, which is a huge dip from his +10 one season ago.  Matt Duchene has a measly 5 points in 20 games since joining the Sens.  Not number 1 center type numbers to say the least.

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To pour some salt on the wound, one of the pieces traded away from the Senators in order to acquire Duchene, Kyle Turris is having a monster year.  Turris was traded to the Nashville Predators as part of a three team deal.  Turris has 17 points in 20 games, and is a +8.  He was the heart and soul of the 2017 Sens.  Well respected by teammates, and coaches alike.  The trade has since caused Ottawa to do a tailspin. They are second to last in the Eastern Conference.  Posting an 11-16-8 record.  Good enough for 30 points.  The Bruins only made things worse for them on Wednesday Night.

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The Bruins came out firing early.  It’s nice what three days off can do for some players.  All four lines, and three d-pairs were flying from the second the puck dropped.  The Bruins back-end looked re-energized, as they stifled the Senators early attack.  The Senators came out, and looked as if they were equal to the task. Never fear, Kevan Miller is here.  About 6 minutes into the first period Miller ripped a laser over the glove of Senators goalie Craig Anderson.

Miller pounced on just an atrocious rebound Anderson gifted to him via a David Backes snap-shot.  Nearly three minutes later noted Candy-Ass, Ryan Spooner found rookie winger, Danton Heinen right in front of the net for an easy tap in goal.

Ryan Spooner made the whole play.  He drove to the outside forcing Anderson, and Senator defenders to commit to him.  That lead to the nice easy tap-in goal for Heinen.  With Danton’s 9th goal of the year he is now 6th in Rookie Scoring (9G, 15 A, 24pts).  The Nash, Backes, Heinen line is a three zone monster, especially during this current 5 game win streak.

The Bruins continued to hound the puck, as the Senators started playing desperate hockey.  With around 5 minutes left to play in the first period, Fredrik Claeson hit Noel Acciari in the neutral zone.  It was a high hit, but 4th line grinder Tim Schaller stepped up and beat the living shit out of that prick.  The Bruins were beating the Senators in every single facet of the game.

Early in the second the onslaught continued.  Riley Nash blocked Erik Karlsson’s shot from the top of the Blueline.  Nash did the incredible, he walked Karlsson end to end, and fired a snap shot goal past Anderson. The Bruins had taken a 3-0 lead early into the second period.

Soon after Nash’s goal the Sens finally got on the board.  Rookie D-man Thomas Chabot fired home a Slap-shot over the blocker of Tuukka Rask.  It was all set up by a slick feed from Mark Stone.  It was 3-1, and the Senators again start to up the pressure.  They seemed to be playing with a sense of desperation.  The Bruins weathered the storm.  Tuukka has been playing lights out, and tonight was no different.

Rask held the fort enough, and the B’s started to get their legs back.  With just over 5 minutes to go in the period, Anders Bjork pressured Dion Phanuef who turned the puck right over at the Bruins attacking blueline.  Bjork gave Nash a soft dish, and Riley walked to the crease slipping the puck between the post, and Anderson’s pad.

The Senators were done from that point on.  They completely quit for the remainder of the game.  Late in the third David Backes notched another tally.  Final score 5-1 Bruins.

The Bruins keep on rolling as the calendar moves to 2018.  All four lines are clicking.  A few games ago it was the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line that carried the young Bruins to victory.  Last night it was the Heinen, Backes, and Nash line that carried the team.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but Riley Nash has really solidifed a steady role on this club.  He is Bergeron lite.  He is a very good face-off guy, makes great plays defensively, and makes the smart correct play in the offensive zone.  People pick on him (myself included) because he doesn’t have the ability to finish on most nights. Even with that, he has a role on this team, and arguably the second best line the past month or so, has been that third unit centered by Nash.

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Tonight the Bruins will be in Washington to take on the Capitals.  The Bruins have a scorching 2-14 record against Brayden Holtby.  The Capitals are not much better than this Bruins squad.  I can’t think of a better time to break the Capital snide.  Dobby the goalie will be between the pipes.

Brayden Holtby will be in net for the Capitals.

Puck drop from Verizon Center at 7:30 pm EST.  Lets go Bruins!

Bruins Beat 12/23

The Boston Bruins took to the TD Garden ice this Saturday, and took care of the Detroit Red Wings. It was the final game before the brief three day holiday break. Typically, the Bruins are known for dumping a steamer during a Saturday Matinee.

This Saturday they almost succeeded in doing so. But, it’s like they say, good teams find ways to win games.

The first period started, and the Bruins came out of the gate hot. All four lines were generating offensive zone pressure. This lead to the Wings taking two boneheaded penalties back to back. On the ensuing 5 on 3 power play Brad Marchand ripped a snap shot over Jimmy Howard’s glove hand. The play was all made possible by a slick cross crease feed from David Backes. The B’s were up 1, and had over a minute still left on a 5 on 4 power play.

Instead of adding to their lead, the B’s decided to dick around in their own end. A series of poor passes, and dudes falling lead to a Frans Nielsen short handed goal less than a minute after the Bruins opened up the scoring.

The two teams played in a stalemate from that point on. The Red Wings generated more chances than the Bruins, and out-shot them 20-10, after the Bruins Out-shot them 10-2 in the first. Still, $7 million dollar man Tuukka Rask stood tall. Rask shut the door, after giving up a soft five hole goal earlier in the game. Tuukka stopped 30 of 31 Red Wing shot attempts when it was all said and done.

In the third period the Bruins tightened up in their own end, and finally, Brad Marchand found Patrice Bergeron in the High slot for the go-ahead goal. Perfect Patrice would go to score the empty netter sealing the game. The Bruins head into the Christmas break on a 4 game win streak. They’ve also managed to jump over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division. Let’s hope the Rangers can pull off a win tonight over the Leafs as well.

Overall, not the best showing from the Bruins. They struggled to get going offensively at times, and were caught making boneheaded decisions with the puck in their own end. It was definitely a game in which they stooped to their opponents level. Still, they found a way to get it done. In years past, they would’ve wilted. The end years of Julien saw his team play like dog shit on home ice, especially in matinee’s.

The Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron line continues to show they are the best line in hockey.

You can change that to 19 after today’s win as well.  It all starts with Bergy.  I will fight and die on the, “Patrice Bergeron is the best two way player in the NHL” hill.  He’s simply disgusting at every single facet of the game.  He is an elite face-off guy, he can dangle through you, he possess a lethal wrist/snap shot, he can make a slick pass, and he plays incredible defense.  Brad Marchand possess more of the “wow” factor than Bergy.  Marchand’s motor is always going.  He is an elite offensive talent which many of us know by now, but his constant hounding of puck carriers make him underrated defensively.  These two beauties give David Pastrnak a lot of room to do his thing.  Pasta is not very good defensively at all, but Marchand and Bergeron are just too fucking good it does not even matter.  This line is clicking, and the offensive numbers aren’t necessarily wowing to this point.

The Bruins will have the next three days off for the Holiday, and they take on the woeful Ottawa Senators next Wednesday.  The Bruins lost all regular season matchups with Ottawa last season, as they never found an answer for Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 neutral zone trap.  They did however, beat the Senators twice in their best of seven Playoff series last April.

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One last thing before I go:

Let’s go Bruins!

Bruins Beat 12/22

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The Boston Bruins finished up their jam packed week on Thursday, at home, against the Winnipeg Jets.  The Jets are a high flying young team much like their opponent, the Boston Bruins.  They have a stacked roster with names such as, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Tobias Enstrom, and Kyle Connor.  The team is filthy good, and the Bruins were going to have their hands full.

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This one was even from the drop of the puck early on. Neither team were able to beat the others goalie. The two goalies, Tuukka Rask and Connor Hellebuyck stood on their heads. The Bruins peppered Hellebuyck with 38 total shots, while the Jets fired 33 at Rask. Both equal to the challenge late into the game with the score 0-0.

At 8:16 of the third period the Bruins finally broke the deadlock. Torey Krug fired home a snap shot from the top of the offensive zone face-off circles. The Bruins has taken a 1-0 lead at long last.

It was Krug’s 6th of the season, and with the play of Rask it looked like all that was needed. Winnipeg had other plans.

A mere 57 seconds later the Bruins got caught in their own zone. The puck was turned over to the Jets right in front of Rask. Nikolaj Ehlers passed the puck to Patrik Laine, who ripped the puck into the yawning cage.

The two teams played to a draw at the end of regulation. 3 on 3 was a fucking treat to watch with these two teams. The amount of youth, speed, and skill on the ice was just absurd. Neither team were able to break through, as both goalies continued to stand tall.

On to a shootout they went! Bryan Little scored on the Jets first attempt, and Marchand was stopped by Hellebuyck. Rask then stopped Laine, and David Pastrnak went bar-down to tie the shootout at 1.

Rask would go on to stone Mark Sheifele, and Ehlers once each, while Bergeron was stoned by Hellebuyck. Never fear! Charlie McAvoy stepped up with a chance to win the game. Chaz ripped a wrister right over Hellebuyck’s glove hand ending the game.

The Bruins will be off until Saturday when they face the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. The Bruins unexpectedly took 6 out of a possible 6 points in this 3 games in four nights stretch. They’re sitting pretty right now. In the NHL the top three teams in each division get an automatic playoff bid at the end of the year. The Bruins currently sit in 3rd in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs are in 2nd by only 2 pints, and have played 3 more games. They currently sit at 7 points ahead of Montreal who are one spot behind them in the standings. Montreal has played 1 more game than the B’s as well.

^Fucking turds.

Either way, the Bruins put themselves into a good position. They control their own destiny, and I am looking forward to seeing where this goes. Outside of the 2011 cup run, this years Bruins are BY FAR my favorite team to watch. Things are looking up on Causeway Street.

(Game Highlights below)