Tuukka Rask Continues To Impress, Earning First Star Of December

 

rask.jpg

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.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Featured

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

 

backes.jpg

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.

Posted in Featured

Boston Bruins Christmas Report Card (2017)

 

cut.jpg

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.

 

cut (1).jpg

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!

 

 

 

Posted in Featured

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

middleton.jpg

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!

Posted in Featured

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?

Posted in Featured

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.

Posted in Featured

Another Injury: Frank Vatrano Leaves Game Following Hard Hit

 

vatrano.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

In the same game that Patrice Bergeron and David Backes make their season debut, another injury rocks the Bruins. Forward Frank Vatrano took a hard hit from Canucks’ defenseman, Erik Gudbranson and left the room near immediately after the collision.

The massive hit came behind the Vancouver goal, as Vatrano looked to pass the puck around the boards. Gudbranson clearly left his feet to nail Vatrano in the back, sending Frank crashing into the boards in an awkward angle. Gudbranson received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding.

Now one good sign in this situation was how the Bruins stood up for Vatrano. Bruins forward, Tim Schaller dropped the gloves near simultaneously as the hit, landing shots on Gudbranson as punishment for the dirty hit.

Here’s hoping Vatrano isn’t injured too badly.

Posted in Featured

Bergeron, Backes A Definite vs. Canucks

 

bergeron vs backes

PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

 

The early stages of the 2017-18 regular season haven’t been the best for the Boston Bruins. Opening the year with a 2-3-0 record, the Bruins have also had to deal with a crazy amount of injuries. Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Noel Acciari, Tuukka Rask, and Ryan Spooner are the big names that have had a taste of the injury bug.

Most recently, Ryan Spooner has suffered a right groin adductor tear, an injury that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. Tuukka Rask was also injured, as he was run down by Anders Bjork during a Bruins practice. Rask was diagnosed earlier today with a concussion and is out indefinitely.

Now from the beginning of the season, Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with unknown injuries, preventing him from playing a single one of the first five games with the B’s. The absence of Bergeron has affected the Bruins. The lack of leadership shows at times, especially with the addition of many new rookies. Bergeron also helps Brad Marchand strive on that top line, no matter who plays on their right wing. Tonight’s game vs Vancouver also happens to be the 900th career game for Bergeron.

Last season, Bergeron played in 79 games, putting up 21-32-53 totals with a +12 rating. Patrice also scored four points in the six playoff games against the Senators.

For David Backes, he has been out for all of the games as well, with a condition known as diverticulitis. Progress has been made since the diagnosis, making the return easier. Backes had 17-21-38 totals in 74 games last year with the Bruins.

Posted in Featured

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy Releases Update On D Adam McQuaid’s Injury

McQuaid-WC-Toque

PHOTO CREDITS: (Joe Makarski)

In the first-ever game against the 31st NHL hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, the Bruins lost two players to injuries. Forward Ryan Spooner late in the second period, and defenseman Adam McQuaid late in the third period. For an update on Spooner, click HERE.

Adam McQuaid took a point-shot from ex-Bruin, Colin Miller in the final minutes of the third and final period, which ended at a 3-1 Vegas win. The shot struck McQuaid in the knee area, causing him what looked like severe pain. He remained on the ice for a considerable amount of time, as players and trainers lead him to the hallway. Quaider was unable to put any weight on the injured leg while heading down the tunnel.

Boston Bruins Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, gave an update on Adam McQuaid following the game.

Adam has been known for his tough, physical style since he was drafted back in 2005 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last season, McQuaid had 2-8-10 totals in 77 games as well as a +4 rating. Throughout his career, McQuaid has approximately 799 hits, each one of them having the ability to cause damage.

Even though his defense can be questionable at times, his physical presence is something needed on the Bruins roster, especially with more and more young players joining the team.

Posted in Featured

Breaking: Boston Forward Injured Against Golden Knights, Will Not Return

 

spooner

PHOTO CREDITS: (dobberhockey.com)

 

As the Boston Bruins play the second game in their desert back-to-back games against the Vegas Golden Knights, Bruins’ forward Ryan Spooner left the game at the beginning at the third period and the team announced that he will not return for the remainder of the game.

Ryan Spooner re-signed with the Bruins back on July 26th after many rumors that he wouldn’t be coming back to the roster for the 2017-18 regular season. Spooner accumulated 11-28-39 totals in 78 games last season along with a -8 rating. In the four games this season, Spooner has one assist, back on October 11 vs Avalanche, as well as a -2 rating.

Depending on the extent of the injury, a player down in the American Hockey League may get the lucky chance to step up in Spooner’s absence and make a name for himself. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson or even Ryan Fitzgerald could play the center position instead of Spooner.

Stay tuned to TheRealBruinsBlog for more updates on the extent on Ryan Spooner’s injury.

Posted in Featured