Grading The Boston Bruins’ 2017-2018 Trade Season

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Trevor Hagan/ The Canadian Press)

 

The 2018 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone now. The 3:00pm EST cutoff time is now behind us and the race to the postseason or to offseason moves officially begins. Sitting in sixth place in the league prior to the Monday deadline day, the Bruins lost two consecutive regulation games for the first time since mid-November. A statistic that is not preferred headed into the busiest month of the year.

With several moves made by General Manager, Don Sweeney, and company, the Boston Bruins feel they have improved their overall team for a possible deep run into the playoffs. Now whether or not the fans agree with that, is another story.

Trade #1 – February 20/2018

Boston Bruins Acquire: D Nick Holden

New York Rangers Acquire: D Robbie O’Gara, Bruins’ 2018 3rd Round Pick

Most fans expected a quiet trade deadline season for the Boston Bruins, so when news came out that Don Sweeney traded away defenceman Rob O’Gara to the Rangers for another defenceman, it came to a surprise. When the trade is broken down, it makes sense. No key roster players were dealt and a depth defender comes in. If you require a deeper analysis of the deal, CLICK HERE.

Trade Score: A

Trade #2 – February 22/2018

Boston Bruins Acquire: Panthers’ 2018 3rd Round Pick

Florida Panthers Acquire: F Frank Vatrano

Yet again, Don Sweeney makes a solid move. Not one that will be breaking news on TSN, but a move that will free up some of the roster spots taken up by the excess forwards. Frank Vatrano had high potential at one point in his career. Vatrano lit up the scoresheet during the 2015-16 AHL season with the Providence Bruins, scoring 36 goals, 55 points in 36 games that year. Although, his NHL career would fall short of that. In 108 career games with Boston, Vatrano only has 50 career points. Thus leading to him sitting in the rafters as a scratch.

In the process of dealing Vatrano, the Bruins gained back that 2018 3rd Round draft pick that they dealt two days earlier, to bring in Nick Holden. Due to Florida’s position below the Bruins in the standings, the draft pick will be higher up in the draft, even though it is still in the third round.

Trade Score: A

Trade #3 – February 25/2018

Boston Bruins Acquire: F Rick Nash

New York Rangers Acquire: F Ryan Spooner, F Matt Beleskey, D Ryan Lindgren, Bruins’ 2018 1st Round Pick, Bruins’ 2018 7th Round Pick

For Bruins fans, you either love this trade, or you hate it. Looking at it on paper, the Bruins gave the Rangers a lot of assets, including Spooner, Lindgren, and a 1st Round Pick for a player whose contract expires on July 1st. Flashback to the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, where injuries and new rookies filled the lineup, making for a struggling team. However, once the injury bug ended and the young players gained confidence in the organization, things began to roll for the Bruins.

Boston had everything you need. A high-scoring, talented first-line, depth throughout the whole roster, four lines that worked hard on every single shift, a young blueline that improved on the nightly basis, and finally, a good starting goaltender with an above-par backup. The newfound success of the Boston Bruins came on the hands of the young players. Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly, just to name a few of the players who made an impact.

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy also found success with the younger generation of hockey players. Prior to replacing ex-Bruins HC Claude Julien behind the bench, Cassidy coached the Bruins’ AHL affiliate team – the Providence Bruins. This experience gave him the ability to appreciate young talent and utilize their potential.

All this combined created for a shock when it was announced that the Bruins traded away two picks, Ryan Spooner, and prospect Ryan Lindgren for a 33-year-old forward. Throughout the leadup to the eventual deal, Rick Nash headlined trade rumors all across the league. A former forty goal scorer could bring some scoring to a team hurting for offense. One thing about that last statement though, Boston was not hurting for offense. The B’s sat 7th in the entire league for most goals for per game as of 7:00am on February 26th, (3.20).

As with all acquisitions, it is difficult to criticize the deal without proper time to evaluate. Clearly, the management of the black and gold wanted some extra goal scoring and some leadership on the team, so they traded for Rick Nash. In the process, they did send out half of Matt Beleskey’s $3.8 million contract, as well as trading away Ryan Spooner, who although was having a good season, has a contract that expires on July 1st and there was no certainty to him wanting to return next year. The Bruins did trade away a first round pick and a defenseman prospect who played a solid game in the World Junior Championships, but Boston has a deep pipeline of valuable prospect that are arguably better than Lindgren or what we can draft with the first rounder.

Again, the move can only be evaluated after all of the involved players have played a considerable amount of games with the other club.

Side Note: Spooner tallied two assists in his Rangers debut on Sunday night, while Nash was held pointless with two shots on the net.

Trade Score at the Moment: B-

Trade #4 – February 26/2018

Boston Bruins Acquire: F Tommy Wingels

Chicago Blackhawks Acquire: Bruins’ Conditional 2019 5th Round Pick

The only trade the Bruins made today, was a deal with the Blackhawks, sending a conditional pick to them in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft for another bottom-six depth forward, Tommy Wingels. First off, what is the condition that goes along with this selection?

According to boston.com, if the Bruins manage to win one playoff round this year, or re-sign Wingels, then the pick becomes a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. If neither situation occurs, then the selection remains in the fifth-round.

Now, me not knowledgeable enough about Wingels to give an accurate report on him coming to Boston, I asked around on FaceBook, finding out from a hardcore hockey fan, Derek Delvecchio, some information on the newest Bruin. Derek states that he has the ability to play all three forward positions and plays a heavy, physical game. Wingels has 150 hits on the season thus far, with limited time playing time with the Hawks. Bruins Network on Twitter also claims he is a great penalty-killer who can handle himself defensively.

Although, his statistics are not the best. In 57 games on the year, Tommy Wingels has 7-5-12 totals with a -10 rating. He was signed by Chicago on the first day of free agency this past year, after a stint with the Ottawa Senators this year.

Trade Score: B+

Well, that’s it! The Boston Bruins made little moves and one move that could change the team heading into the next stretch of the season and eventual postseason. Let me know in the comments what your opinions are on the deals made by the black and gold this trade season, and your predictions for the remainder of the season.

Boston now gets ready with their new lineup to face the Carolina Hurricanes, tomorrow. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST inside the TD Garden in Boston.

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TRADE: Bruins Finalize Trade With New York Rangers

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (tsn.ca)

 

On February 20th, 2018, the Boston Bruins have reportedly traded away defenceman Robbie O’Gara and a 2018 3rd round selection to the New York Rangers in exchange for d-man, Nick Holden, according to many analysts.

Rob O’Gara has been a defenceman in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins for the majority of his career since being drafted by Boston in round 5 of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. O’Gara has 11 NHL games underneath his belt, scoring 0 points and leaving with a -4 rating. The 24-year-old was used in eight games by Boston this season in replacement for injuries on the blueline.

In return, the Bruins acquire 6’4″, 214-pound d-man, Nick Holden from the Rangers. Holden has played in 55 of the 60 games this season for the Rangers, accumulating 3-9-12 totals and a -3 rating on a team that currently sits five points out of the second Eastern wild card position.

Holden’s contract comes to an end on July 1st, with a current cap hit of $1,650,000. The move strengthens the depth on the blueline for the Bruins while also possibly silencing the rumours about trading for Rangers’ captain Ryan McDonagh before next week’s trade deadline.

Boston currently sits in the third place position throughout the entire league, only two points back of the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The team prepares for a road game against the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00pm EST.

 

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Matt Grzelcyk – Boston For Life

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

The Boston Bruins have had a solid start to the 2017-18 regular season. The Bruins struggled early on in the season as they dealt with injuries and a shaky starting goaltender to remain in a playoff spot. Once the Bruins returned to full health as a unit, the wins began to pile up. At the moment, the black and gold are tied for their second-longest point streak, with a point in each of their last eighteen contests, (14-0-4), and sit third place in the entire league standings, behind only Vegas and Tampa Bay.

Some would say that the injury bug to begin the campaign was a negative thing, as a healthy team produced more wins than an injured one, but one of the injuries created a new promising young player. When Torey Krug went down with an upper-body injury back in November, and d-man Adam McQuaid had a broken leg, the Bruins were forced to call-up another defender from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League. They chose 2012 3rd round pick, Matt Grzelcyk.

Prior to his call-up to the big leagues on November 21, 2017, Grzelcyk had only two NHL games underneath his belt coming in the ’16/’17 season, both of which he got limited ice time, (14:34 vs Pittsburgh and 10:24 vs Anaheim). Grzelcyk would, however, get seventy games with Providence in the 2016-17 season. During the time span, Grzelcyk would put up 6-26-32 totals and a +13 rating, making an impact with the Boston affiliate team.

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Boston Bruins’ Matt Grzelcyk during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)(Winslow Townson)

Once again, Matt would begin the season with the P-Bruins, playing in fourteen games before the news of the call-up. Grzelcyk would not tally a goal in the span but would contribute with four assists and a +4 rating as well. When the news that his call-up to Boston, Grzelcyk realized he needed to play his very best hockey of his life in order to remain on the main squad.

From the beginning, the Boston, Mass. native surprised critics from the get-go with his impressive puck handling as well as skating ability that left defenders clueless in the Bruins’ defensive zone. Below is a prediction made by Mike Drover in September of 2017 on Matt Grzelcyk.

“When the Bruins’ head office compares you to Torey Krug, you’re doing something right. That’s exactly the case for Grzelcyk, who appears to be on the right trajectory for an NHL appearance in the near future. He is a small defender at only 5-9 but is offensively gifted and has a strong first pass. Though small, Grzelcyk is not afraid to defend but will have to prove that he’s got the strength to not get pushed around before making the jump to the NHL. Mike Drover”

Only 29 games into the NHL season, the predictions are true. Grzelcyk is yet to show a lot of weakness when being pushed by the opposition. Grzelcyk is able to effectively handle the puck behind the net and make a wise breakout pass to either begin a scoring chance or to clear the puck and get a line change. Grzelcyk has taken off some of the offensive pressure that was placed on Torey Krug before his arrival. Of course, Charlie McAvoy has also done a solid job of providing offensive assistance to the B’s blueline.

The above video, courtesy of Boston University on YouTube, showed some small samples of the puck handling abilities that he is capable of. In the video, Grzelcyk stated, “I want to be the quarterback, distribute the puck to my teammates.” Many Bruins fans consider Torey Krug to be the quarterback of the blueline, so to have two of them on one team, is a special thing.

Courtesy of Boston Bruins on Twitter, below is a video of Matt and his dad, John Grzelcyk, after he scored his first career NHL goal in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Paul Barstad, the creator of the Facebook group, The Bear Cave, mentioned the roots of the Grzelcyk family in Boston, as John Grzelcyk has been apart of the “Bull Gang” for 25-30 years. The Bull Gang is the crew of people in the TD Garden who transform the Bruins ice rink to the Boston Celtics basketball court, or for concert stages and other special events. Throughout John’s life, he has seen many Bruins moments and many, many goals, but to him, nothing was as special nor important as his son scoring his first NHL goal that can be seen below.

Even when defenceman Adam McQuaid was cleared to come back into the lineup, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy kept McQuaid sitting and did not remove Grzelcyk from the six-man core of defencemen. Clearly, the play of Grzelcyk impressed the management enough to play him continually.

This season, the Bruins have had some young players play well such as Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk and a few others, but now it is officially time to name Matt Grzelcyk with those young players as a future Bruin for a long time.

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Brad Marchand Receives Another Suspension

 

PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

For the ninth time in his NHL career, Bruins forward Brad Marchand is in trouble with the league. This time, Marchand was under heat for elbowing Devils’ forward Marcus Johansson in the third period of a 3-2 win, Tuesday night. The elbow forced the league to have a hearing with the 29-year-old Halifax native.

Before the ruling was announced earlier tonight, hockey fans from all different fanbases weighed in on whether or not Marchand should be fined or worse, suspended. Many factors ended up playing a role in the eventual decision.

Prior to the elbow that landed last night, Marchand has been fined or suspended on eight different occasions in his nine-year NHL career.

In March 2011, Marchand was suspended for two games for another nasty elbow, to Columbus Blue Jackets player, R.J Umberger.

Again in 2011, this time in December, Marchand would be fined $2,500 for a slew-foot on Matt Niskanen.

In 2012, Marchand was given a five-game suspension for clipping Canucks d-man, Sami Salo.

Fast forward three years and Brad once again is in trouble, this time he received a two-game ban for yet another slew-foot, this time on Rangers’ skater, Derek Brassard.

Again in 2015, Brad Marchand was fined $5,000 for a roughing call on Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche.

Then in 2015 once again, Marchand lost his opportunity to play in the Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens when he clipped Senators’ player Mark Borowiecki from behind.

Last season, Brad continued with another fine, this one reaching $10,000 in the league’s attempt to teach Marchand a lesson after he tripped Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings.

Sadly, Marchy was not done there, he was suspended in April of last season, missing the final two games of the regular season after he spearing Lightning defenceman, Jake Dotchin in the groin.

Following video evidence of previous suspensions, it is quite clear the way the league was going to handle Marchand’s most recent violation. Another thing to consider was the recent suspension of Anaheim’s Andrew Cogliano. One that raised controversy as Cogliano was on an 830 consecutive game streak, coming closer to breaking Doug Jarvis’ record for most consecutive games played. The hit that caused suspension was border-line and Cogliano has no previous history of dangerous plays.

As stated, it did not take long for the National Hockey League to decide the punishment for Brad Marchand’s elbow to Johansson. They settled on tying the longest suspension of Marchand’s career – five games while having to forfeit $373,475.61 in salary.

The suspension comes as a disappointment to not only Marchand but the Bruins as a whole. Marchand has been on fire this season, hitting fifty points in only 38 games played this season (21-29-50 totals) along with a +24 rating. Marchand has helped assist fellow linemates, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron to reach their twentieth goal of the year.

Devils’ forward Marcus Johansson has reportedly suffered a concussion from the elbow, his second concussion this year, after he recently came back from one in November 2017. The injury status may have also been a key factor in Marchand getting five games over any other amount.

So will Marchand ever learn to not make dirty plays? At the age of twenty-nine, Marchand should have the maturity as a hockey player to refrain from performing illegal moves to other players. None of the suspensions have come at a good time of the year, hopefully, the Bruins can continue their hot play.

Boston will put their 17-game point streak on the line against the struggling Ottawa Senators (15-22-9) tomorrow in Ottawa, Ontario. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 EST.

 

 

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Tuukka Rask Continues To Impress, Earning First Star Of December

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportingnews.com)

 

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is having his best season since his Vezina winning season in 2013-14. However, the best month he has had so far this campaign would have to be the month of December. On Christmas Eve, Tuukka Rask earned top honours in the ‘Three Stars Of The Week’, after he went 3-0-0 that specific week. But it wasn’t just that one week where Rask played at a high level, it was the entire month of December.

During the ten-game month, the Finnish goalie went 9-0-1 with a goals-against-average of 1.22 and a save percentage of 0.955% with the only loss for him that month coming against the New York Rangers, the same team that won yesterday’s Winter Classic versus the Buffalo Sabres.

Rask faced exactly 290 shots during the final month of 2017 stopping 277 of them. The excellent play of Tuukka helped push the Bruins to a second place position in the Atlantic division, tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 48 points.

One of the main talking points for the Bruins organization is the separation of Tuukka Rask fans and Tuukka Rask ‘haters’. Over the past couple seasons, Tuukka Rask has not played to the standard of a goalie who is paid $7 million, thus causing a fanbase to argue over the ‘elite’ prefix that other fans tend to put before his name.

One thing is for sure if Tuukka Rask can continue the success heading into the final half of the 2017-18 season, the Boston Bruins could very well be in a good spot, making a solid push for a postseason berth.

Also knowing Rask can hold his own in the cage, the offensive and defensive players do not have as much pressure riding on their backs to prevent chances by the opposition. This will create more flashy plays and more goal totals, something we have seen as of late. Especially the ten goals in four days against the Ottawa Senators late-December.

Followed behind Rask for the ‘Three Stars Of The Month’ was New York Islanders forward, Josh Bailey, who earned the Second Star, and Tampa Bay scorer Nikita Kucherov, who was awarded the Third Star. Congratulations to Rask, Bailey, and Kucherov on being at the top of the league.

 

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Two Weeks In A Row – Bruins Represent In ‘Three Stars Of The Week’

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

Last week, the National Hockey League announced that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was the league’s first star of the week.

A statistic that shows the work effort and results that was displayed over the course of the past week. For a team that has found many wins as of late, boosting themselves to second place in the Atlantic division, the Boston Bruins get the honour of having players in the ‘Three Stars Of The Week’.

For the second consecutive week, a Boston Bruin is apart of the three best, this time, forward David Backes.

In three games following the Christmas break, Backes accumulated 3 goals and 3 assists against the Washington Capitals and two dominant wins over the Ottawa Senators.

The great week for Backes is a Cinderella-type story. Earlier on this season, he was diagnosed with diverticulitis, an illness that occurs inside the colon walls. After a brief return, Backes left the game again in order to have surgery to remove a piece of his colon.

David has already played fifteen games since the surgery while putting up a near point-per-game stat line, with 7 goals and 7 assists in the time.

The Bruins will look to continue the hot play at the end of 2017 into the new year, as they play the 20-15-4 New York Islanders on January 2nd in the Barclays Center. Puck drop for tomorrow’s game is currently scheduled for 7:00pm EST.

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Boston Bruins Christmas Report Card (2017)

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

With wins in 13 of their last 17 games, the Boston Bruins must be feeling pretty confident with themselves entering the three-day break for Christmas.

The final month of the year has brought the Bruins an 8-2-1 record with three games remaining. Numerous players have been thriving as of late, strengthening the team to only two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic division. The official point totals for the Black and Gold are below.

PLAYER STATISTICS: 

Forwards:

  1. David Pastrnak | 34 GP – 15G – 18A – 33P  0+/-
  2. Brad Marchand |26 GP – 15G – 17A – 32P  +14
  3. Patrice Bergeron | 29GP – 10G – 14A – 24P  +14
  4. Danton Heinen | 30GP – 8G – 14A – 22P +2
  5. Jake DeBrusk | 30GP – 8G – 10G – 18P 0+/-
  6. David Krejci | 18GP – 5G – 9A -14P -2
  7. Riley Nash | 33GP 2G – 10A – 12P 0+/-
  8. Andres Bjork | 26GP – 4G – 7A – 11P 0+/-
  9. David Backes | 17GP 4G -5A – 9P -2
  10. Tim Schaller | 34GP 4G – 4A – 8P -5
  11. Ryan Spooner | 14GP 1G – 7A – 8P +3
  12. Sean Kuraly | 34GP 3G – 3A – 6P -3
  13. Noel Acciari | 20GP 2G – 1A – 3P -4
  14. Frank Vatrano | 20GP 2G – 0A – 2P -3
  15. Peter Cehlarik | 5GP 1G – 1A – 2P +2

Defenseman:

  1. Torey Krug | 30GP 6G – 14A – 20P -8
  2. Charlie McAvoy | 34GP 5G – 14A – 19P +7
  3. Zdeno Chara | 34GP 3G – 7A – 10P +15
  4. Kevan Miller | 32GP 0G – 5A – 5P 0+/-
  5. Brandon Carlo | 34GP 0G – 4A – 4P +7
  6. Matt Grzelcyk | 16GP 1G – 2A – 3P +7
  7. Paul Postma | 12GP 0G – 1A – 1P -2
  8. Adam McQuaid | 6GP 0G – 1A – 1P -3

Goaltenders:

  1. Tuukka Rask | 23GP | 22-11-8 | 2.28 GAA | .918 SV% | 1 SO
  2. Anton Khudobin | 13GP | 8-2-0 | 2.45 GAA | .923 SV% | 1 SO

*All stats come from nhl.com/bruins/stats

NOTES: Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are neck-and-neck in total points on the year, proving that the chemistry together pays off. Danton Heinen has surpassed some high-paid players in the roster for fourth in scoring on the team. Zdeno Chara continues to play at a solid level, with a +15 rating so far this season. Charlie McAvoy remains a main talking point for the Calder Memorial Trophy, alongside linemate Torey Krug who has been equally impressive. Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk have been playing solid on the defensive end to earn a +7 rating. Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have been semi-reliable in the cage. Finally, even following serious surgery, David Backes can still produce on both sides of the ice.

 

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

With the positives so far, come some unfortunate negatives.

Injuries continue to hurt the play of F David Krejci and D Adam McQuaid. Frank Vatrano struggles on the offensive end for the entirety of the season thus far. Kevan Miller has zero goals so far, five less than the man Boston decided not to protect in the Expansion Draft, Colin Miller. Brandon Carlo also remains goalless, however, he has been producing on the defensive side in some games.

Aside from the positives and negatives for individual stats, there are many more stats throughout the rest of the sport that pertain to entire teams, not just singled-out players.

SCORING: 

The Bruins currently sit 14th in the entire league for goals for per game, averaging 2.91 goals a game. However, the B’s have yet to score 100 goals as a team this season, ranking them 23rd out of the total 31 NHL franchises. Boston sits at a 20.5% power play percentage, placing them behind ten other teams. The Black and Gold are ninth in the National Hockey League for faceoff win percentage, (51%).

DEFENCE:

Although the Bruins have not scored 100 goals, they have prevented teams from scoring more than 100 as well, as both Rask and Khudobin have allowed a combined 88 goals against, which is good for fourth best in the league currently. The solid stat gives the Bruins title of fifth place for lowest goals against per game, 2.59 GA/G. Finally, the opposite end of the speciality teams, the penalty kill, is the 4th best atop the other teams, with an 84% PK percentage.

Exactly one year ago, the Bruins had a December record of 6-4-3, good for fifteen points. Like previously mentioned, the Bruins are cruising on an 8-2-1 record so far in December, good for a stellar seventeen points. The Bruins used the momentum of a new coach and a new-found groove to make the postseason. With some similar play this year, another possible playoff appearance may be possible for Boston.

Even though the team seems to be striving on high levels at this moment in time, changes may still end up occurring sometime soon, mainly on the blueline.

Defenseman Adam McQuaid has been out since October 18th with a broken leg. Boston considers him to be ‘day-to-day’ right now, meaning a return could come sooner than later. The toughness and leadership that McQuaid brings to the locker room day in and day out is very important to any roster, especially a roster that is highlighted by many younger players.

In McQuaid’s absence, D Matt Grzelcyk has impressed not only fans of the B’s, but management as well. His puck handling surprises many nearly every game, considering his young age of 23. Picked in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Grzelcyk is only now getting his shot at minutes in the big leagues, aside from a short two-game stint last season.

* Grzelcyk’s first career NHL goal was highlighted at the 3:48 mark of the second video featured above.*

A new grown confidence for Grzelcyk could be halted to a stop if he is the one removed from the lineup in replacement of the returning McQuaid. A more reasonable option would be to scratch D Kevan Miller, who has struggled all year.

Either way, the Bruins will have decisions to make as they look towards their third back-to-back series of December, on the 27th and 28th. First a home game against the Ottawa Senators (11-15-8, 30pts, 7th in Atlantic), followed by an away game in Washington D.C. versus the Washington Capitals (22-13-3, 46pts, 2nd in Metropolitan).

Four points would be huge for the standings, as the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team Boston looks to pass in the Atlantic division, don’t play until the 28th of December, where they begin a back-to-back of their own.

In conclusion, how do you feel the Boston Bruins are performing at the Christmas break? Do changes need to be made before the Trade Deadline? Does McQuaid come back in the lineup? Many questions are left to be answered and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Bruins fans!

 

 

 

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Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton: Why Is He NOT In The Hall Of Fame?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (bostonsportsdesk.com)

The Hockey Hall Of Fame – home to the best hockey players the National Hockey League and surrounding ice hockey leagues have ever seen. Players like the Great One Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard, and the list of greatness continues. 57 players or builders that wore the black and gold Bruins jersey are currently in the Hall as of 2017. However, there is one man who still remains out of the great distinction. Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton.

Rick Middleton began his hockey career in 1970-1971 with the Toronto Nationals of the Metro Jr. B Hockey League (MJBHL) which was located in Ontario, Canada. His supreme scoring capabilities showed early, scoring 39-34-73 totals in only 42 games played. The following season, Middleton played for the Oshawa Generals in the OHA and he did not end the scoring touch he had in the MJBHL. After a 70-point campaign in the 1971-72 season, Middleton would have more goals than games played in the ’72-’73 year. In 62 games played, ‘Nifty’ scored 67 goals and helped the team with 70 assists, tallying up to 137 points.

At the end of that season, Rick Middleton was eligible to be drafted into the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, in which he was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round. The first round draft selection played the next 63 games with the AHL affiliate team of the Rangers, the Providence Reds. Rick completed the regular season with 36-48-84 totals and 14 PIMs. The performance that season gave him Rookie Of The Year honours as well as a spot on the AHL First All-Star team.

The performance nearly guaranteed him a spot in the National Hockey League, which he indeed got. The New York Rangers played Middleton in 124 games between the next two seasons, as Middleton scored ninety points in the two-year span. However, in the 1975-76 season, Rick had a terrible -38 plus/minus rating. This lead to one of the worst trades in the history of the NHL because Rick Middleton was heading to Boston.

On May 26th, 1976, the Boston Bruins sent forward Ken Hodge Sr. to the New York Rangers in exchange for the minor-league scoring forward, Richard Middleton.

Year one with the Bruins started off slowly. Scoring 42 points in 72 games played, Middleton found success in the postseason. The Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Finals after defeating the Los Angeles Kings in the Quarter-Finals and sweeping the Flyers in the Semi-Finals. The Bruins would then be swept by the 60-win Montreal Canadiens in the Finals, although, forced an overtime session in the concluding game four.

Boston would have to wait another year to see the all-star scoring that Middleton was capable of. As for the 1977-78 season, Rick would score sixty points for the Black & Gold, in 79 games. Again, Middleton scored seven points in 15 playoff games, staying average in scoring for the team.

Now to begin his professional NHL career, Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton did not have the best of years. However, after the 1978 season ended, his point productions skyrocketed. For the next seven seasons, Middleton would never score less than seventy points. In the midst of the scoring spree, ‘Nifty’ netted more than 100 points on two separate occasions and more than ninety on three different occasions.

Boston Bruins

PHOTO CREDITS: (Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) Left to Right: Middleton, O’Reilly, Bourque accepting three star awards. 

During 1981, Rick Middleton played for the first time in International play, playing for Team Canada in the Canada Cup. However, it wasn’t until 1984 when he teamed with Wayne Gretzky and Michel Goulet, that we saw his scoring for Canada, netting four goals and four assists in only seven tournament games.

In 1981-82, the season in which he scored the most goals in his career with 51, Middleton also took home the Lady Byng Trophy for excellence and sportsmanship in the league.

Always staying consistent during the postseason games as well, Middleton found the absolute scoring touch in the 1982-1983 Road To The Cup with an incredible 11 goals, 22 assists for 33 points in the seventeen playoff games. His Bruins won the President’s Trophy with 50 wins on the season but fell short in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Islanders, who ended up winning their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup.

The Boston Bruins awarded Middleton for his leadership in the locker room with the prestige ‘A’ badge placed on his sweater in the ’85 season.

For the final three seasons of his illustrious career, Richard Middleton felt the wrath of injuries. In the 1986 regular season, Middleton took a hard puck to the temple during a shootaround in practice. He was sidelined for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs due to the concussion. Prior to the injury, Middleton played the game without the use of a helmet, a common practice in the NHL at the time. Learning from the mistakes, Middleton played the concluding years of his career with a helmet.

Never fully recovering from the concussion, Middleton was still able to score 31 goals the following season but was forced to retire the next season due to the constant headaches that plagued his playing talent.

Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton stunned the world with his scoring talent and passing skill. In 1005 games, he finished with 448-540-988 as well as 100 points in only 114 career playoff games. His playing days are remembered in the record books as well. The following are the records that Middleton owns and still stand to this very day.

  • Most points in one playoff series (19)
  • Most assists in one playoff series (14)
  • Highest playoff Points per game average in one series by a right winger (1.94)
  • Highest playoff Assists per game average in one series by a right winger (1.29)
  • Ranks 2nd All-Time in career shooting percentage among players with 400+ goals (19.7)

Bruins fans have been calling for the induction of Rick Middleton into the Hall for a long time now, but the league has yet to do so. Bruins fans also want the banner #16 that Middleton wore for the majority of his career with Boston up in the rafters with the likes of Orr, Bourque, Neely, Hitchman, Shore, and many more.

There is no doubt in my mind that ‘Nifty’ has done what it takes and more to be solidified as one of the best to ever put on a Bruins sweater, let alone an NHL sweater. Considering the goal-scoring talent that he possessed and the consistency he sustained throughout his career while only racking up a grand total of 157 penalty minutes.

So this leaves the following question, do you, as a fan of the Boston Bruins and a fan of the great sport we call hockey, does Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton deserve a place in the Hockey Hall Of Fame? Or did his career lack something that should prevent him from being with the best of the best. Let me know!

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Bruins Place F Matt Beleskey On Waivers

 

beleskey

PHOTO CREDITS: (stanleycupofchowder.com)

 

The Boston Bruins have announced on December 14th that they have placed forward Matt Beleskey on waivers ahead of their game against the Washington Capitals.

The ‘Matt Beleskey-project’ hasn’t worked out in the Bruins’ favour since the free agent signing back in the 2015 offseason. Beleskey made some difference in the first year on the team, putting up 15-22-37 totals in 80 regular season games in the 2015-16 campaign. Since then, Matt has only eight points in 63 games as well as a -18 rating. His struggles have continued this season as well. While being shuffled around everywhere on Bruce Cassidy’s lineups, Beleskey has yet to score a single point along with a -8 rating.

Back in the 2015 offseason, the five-year, $19 million contract that the Bruins locked Beleskey up to, hyped a lot of the fanbase considering Matt was coming off of a playoff run where he scored eight goals in the sixteen postseason contests. However, the goal-scoring has been the furthest thing that Beleskey has done since his arrival.

So, does Matt Beleskey get picked up by another NHL team? Or will Beleskey become a $3.8 million AHL player?

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Bruins Release Update On Adam McQuaid’s Injury

 

NHL: Boston Bruins at Nashville Predators

PHOTO CREDITS: (causewaycrowd.com)

 

After a relatively exciting 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins received some unfortunate news on one of their blueliners.

Defenseman Adam McQuaid was injured about 10 minutes into the third period in the game, after taking a wrist shot from Canucks forward, Brock Boeser. The shot left McQuaid hurt on the ice, needed assistance to go to the bench. Adam would not return to play that night and would be checked by doctors on Friday.

It was confirmed by Bruins management that Adam had suffered a broken right fibula and will require surgery on Monday, October 23rd. It is suspected that he will be out of action for at least eight weeks.

The loss comes at a time where injuries are hurting the organization. Patrice Bergeron still isn’t 100% healed from his lower-body injury, Tuukka Rask still has a concussion, and David Krejci left Thursday’s game also with an upper-body injury. McQuaid brings that physical force that is lacking on the Bruins roster for the most part.

So far this year, McQuaid has one assist in the six games so far, with 12 PIMS and a -3 rating. Last season. Quaider put up 2-8-10 totals in 77 games along with a +4 rating and 71 PIMS.

Bruins Network on Twitter suggests Rob O’ Gara should get the call up to replace the injured McQuaid.

We at TheRealBruinsBlog wish a speedy and successful recovery for Adam McQuaid.

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