Boston Bruins Sign Two Prospects

By Mark Allred       Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier today that the club has come to terms with forward Ryan Fitzgerald and defenseman Emil Johansson. Both players will report to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League after receiving entry-level contracts.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

A native of North Reading, the 5′-10″ 177-pound is a versatile forward spending time at center and the right wing in his four years of collegiate hockey at Boston College. In 152 career games with the Eagles the son of former Bruin Tom Fitzgerald (2005-06, 71 Games) contributed 66-66-132 numbers and finished his time with BC with an exit in last week’s Hockey East Tournament to the hands of the Umass-Lowell Riverhawks.

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Fitzy had a decent Senior year this season posting 12-19-31 numbers in 34 games. I firmly believe if he didn’t miss 14 games due to injury this season he would’ve passed hiss career high off 47 points he accrued in his junior year (24-23-47). This season the 2013 fourth round selection of the Bruins (120th overall) was named to the NCAA Hockey East All-Tournament Team. The 22-year-old forward has been a part of a decent hockey family as his cousins Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes, and Matthew Tkachuk is currently playing in the league, and former great Kieth Tkachuk retired back in 2010.

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Ryan is an offensively talented forward who may not be big in stature, but you wouldn’t know it by his physical style competing against bigger stronger players. He’a a quick two-way forward with good vision in all three zones of the ice but could use more weight moving forward. He’ll  be a solid addition to the depths of the Bruins development system and with signing a two-year entry level contract today has time to showcase his skills and work hard to impress the Bruins Brass to even think of being considered for an NHL roster spot anytime soon.

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Emil Johansson

Emil is a 6′-0″ 190-pound defenseman who’s had a decent season in the Swedish Hockey League with the Djurgårdens IF club. In 49 games this season he’s contributed 7-10-17 numbers and with his three-year entry-level deal done today appears ready to transition his European style defensive game to the North American pro levels of hockey. The 20-year-old Vaxjo, Sweden native was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and although I can’t evaluate his game just from researching his stats, I do have some input during his time in offseason Boston Bruins events.

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The last two years I’ve spent a great deal of time at the Bruins annual development camps which were held at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Massachusetts and have been very impressed with Johansson’s skill set for a seventh rounder. Even tho these event aren’t game situations and can’t get proper evaluations, I thought whenever he attended camps he was really giving it all to make a serious impression which may have had implications on today’s news.

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I liked his skating with or without the puck and his vision transitioning during four on four and three on three drills. He possesses a nasty shot selection and moves well east to west along the blueline. At six feet he plays a much bigger style to his game and has a knack for finding the pivot points of an opposing players body to knock that player off balance while defending around the crease. Even in development camp, he showed he can throw the body around with devastating hits and is quick to recover to the play afterward.

With 12 games remaining in the AHL regular season, I look forward to seeing these two prospects make their debuts with the Providence and that time could be this weekend as the Baby B’s are set to play three games in a row starting tonight against the Wolf Pack in Hartford, Connecticut.

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The Race is On

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(Above Photo Credit:  cbc .com)

By Spencer Lindsay

Follow me on Twitter @suspenceful9

With 12 wins in their last 16 games, the Bruins are cruising toward a playoff berth. Following a 6-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins traveled to Calgary and faced a team that is currently even hotter than they are. Heading into that game Calgary was 10-0-0, but the Bruins prevented the 11th win by playing a solid 60-minute game. Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn’t keep the good times rolling on the back end of a back to back set of games against a fast Edmonton team, and dropped that with a score of 7-4. With 11 games left in the regular season, and 3 teams hot on their heels, the margin of error is slim for the Black and Gold. Every point will matter. Soon stats like ROW are going to become relevant again, as games played is no longer an adequate tie breaker once every team in the league has played 82. So, let’s take a look at those three teams chasing the Bruins, and see how they can potentially affect the B’s.

Toronto is the team that has been either right behind, tied with, or barely ahead of the Bruins all season. Their appearance on this list shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. The other two, however, may come as a surprise to anyone not closely following this playoff race. Tampa Bay has somehow clawed their way back into playoff contention, despite injuries to key players and movement of others to different teams in the league at the deadline. In the last two years, Tampa has been a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 where they lost to Chicago, and in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual Stanley Cup winner, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The feeling in Tampa is if they can just make it into the playoffs, they could really do some damage.

The last team on my list is the New York Islanders. For most of the season, the Islanders were seemingly irrelevant. They were basement dwellers in a strong Metropolitan division until they fired their head coach and went on a bit of a tear to turn their season around. Sound familiar?

Coincidentally, the Bruins happen to play each of these teams at least once more, with two home dates against Tampa Bay that could likely decide one team’s playoff fate. The best-case scenario for the Bruins obviously would be to win all four of these games. Though it is a nice thought, it isn’t realistic. That isn’t because I don’t have faith in the Bruins, but because at this point in the season, teams just on the outside tend to play a much more desperate game. I would say that the most reasonable outcome to expect from the Bruins in these four games is five points. It doesn’t matter how they come, but five points in these four games would keep the Bruins’ heads above water. The more important games to win in that set of four, are the Tampa and Toronto games, as those teams are in the Atlantic Division. New York is less important to win because of the way the NHL does playoff seeding, there is actually only one playoff spot the Islanders can realistically have, and that is the second wild card spot.

The way the playoff seeding works is still relatively new, and can still be a bit confusing. Using today’s current standings as an example, the first-round matchups would be as follows; Montreal would play the New York Rangers, Ottawa would play Boston, Washington would play Toronto, and Pittsburgh would play Columbus. Washington, as the division leader with the most points, plays the wild card team with the least points, in this case, it would be Toronto. Montreal, as the division leader with fewer points, would play the first wild card team, the New York Rangers. The other matchups are the number two and three teams in each division going head to head. The reason the NHL installed this new system a couple of seasons ago was to be able to showcase division rivalries. Say what you want, but I liked the old system better, but I digress.

Currently, there are four teams (Boston, Tampa, Toronto, New York Islanders) fighting for two playoff spots. It seems unlikely that Ottawa will cool off (though they did just lose Craig Anderson to a lower body injury), Montreal appears poised to take the division, and don’t hold your breath on any of the other four Metro teams falling out of the race. Right now, the Bruins control their own destiny. Meaning as long as they keep winning, they don’t need to worry themselves at all about the teams behind them.

The jury is still out on which teams will make it and which teams won’t, but one thing is for sure… it’s going to be a wild two and a half weeks until the end of the season. Stay tuned Bruins fans.

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David Backes, Leaving It All On The Ice

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(Above Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By Court Lalonde    @courtlalonde

Last night the biggest offseason signing by the Boston Bruins gave us all a scare as he fell awkwardly into the boards in the first period after catching an edge. David Backes was helped off the ice by teammates, walked down the tunnel to the dressing room and it seemed our luck had changed from good to bad. He channeled his inner Patrice Bergeron by coming back in the second period and scored the eventual game-winner with a wrist shot over the shoulder of Calgary Flames goaltender Chad Johnson, former Bruins back-up.

His signing over the summer wasn’t met with great fan fair with all Bruins fans; some will still say they like the player but don’t like the term. I for one was skeptical of the signing and wasn’t sure the reasoning behind it at first. We all knew the biggest need the Bruins had in the offseason was defense, scoring winger, not another centerman. I have come to realize the reasoning behind the Backes deal: his grit and leadership.

He has never really been known as a scorer by any means during his career in the National Hockey League. He has scored over 30 goals twice in his 11-year career so far and had over 60 points once. Currently, he has 15 goals, 19 assists, for 34 points, with a plus-one rating. He has been up and down the lineup and played center and winger this year on different lines. He has seemed to find his home on the right-side on the line with Bergeron and MVP candidate Brad Marchand.

His impact wasn’t felt right away on the score sheet when he moved onto the top line. However, he brought an intangible that was missing from this line which is not being afraid to take the body and plopping his butt in front of the net. The past two games on this western road trip, he has scored two goals and recorded one assist, he has also made his physical presence felt. Backes is leading the Bruins in hits this year with 190. The next closest to him on the team is Adam McQuaid with 134. He has also been known to drop the gloves from time to time to make a statement to his teammates.

 

We can all debate the term on his contract and what value he will have to this team at the end of it. What he brings in leadership currently out weights it to me. He has been sacrificing his body for his teammates all year while being a vocal leader on the bench. The Bruins currently are in a playoff spot, with his experience and new found chemistry with his line mates my optimism for a long playoff run becomes greater after every game. We always say we want them to play like the “Big Bad Bruins” again, well David Backes has been doing it all season.

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Boston Bruins: This Isn’t Just A Spark

 

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

Nov 19, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner (51) skates with the puck during the 3rd period at TD Garden. The Bruins won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

By Spencer Lindsay     Follow Me On Twitter  @suspenceful9

In the (13) games since Bruce Cassidy has taken over as interim head coach, the Boston Bruins have soared upward. They have become one of the hottest teams in the NHL and have played to the tune of a 10-3-0 record in the era of Bruce Cassidy. In those 13 games, there have been noticeably good changes in the way the team is playing. The structure hasn’t changed much, most of the defensive zone play, neutral zone play, powerplay, and penalty kill structure has remained largely the same. The structure that did change? The way they attacked the net.

Bruce Cassidy told reporters in his first press conference as interim head coach that he wanted his players to use their skill more in the offensive zone to create better scoring chances. So far the team has reaped the rewards of that philosophy. Outscoring opponents 47 to 27 in that time and only dropping three games. They tallied wins against three division leaders, two of them being the San Jose Sharks, and the third being a 4-0 beat-down against the Bruins most hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps the most satisfying win of them all. With this recent improvement of play, the Bruins have soared back into a playoff spot, and appear poised to once again be playing hockey in April, rather than golf.

However, besides just winning and the hope of playoffs, there are other reasons to be excited as a Bruins fan right now. First of all, the Bruins have quite a few decent to potential star players in their farm system. Names like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Jeremy Lauzon,  have the organization looking primed for the future. The Bruins also have arguably two of the better younger players in the NHL as well in David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo. They even have the second overall point scorer in the NHL, in Brad Marchand, who has emerged as an elite talent in the league within the last two seasons.

All of these positives signs aside, there is one sign getting overlooked, and that is that the Bruins finally seem to have decided on a direction for the team, and even more re-assuring is that it happens to be the same direction the league is going.

Within the last 3 years, NHL fans have seen the size of the nets increased, the depth of the nets decreased to encourage plays behind the goal line, and rule changes regarding the size of the equipment that goalies can use. All of these changes were made with one purpose, and that was to increase scoring league wide. NHL executives realized that a 6-4 game is much more exciting to most fans than a 1-0 or a 2-1 overtime game, and took action to make the former results more plausible. It’s with these rule changes in mind that my reasoning comes for the Bruins finally moving with the league, instead of against it.

Under Claude Julien, the Bruins were continuing to play a more defensively minded game, and we saw what kind of results that brought. It seemed the Bruins were bound to come just short of a playoff spot again, and a rebuild would be almost certain. However, the roster that General Manager Don Sweeney was putting together the last two years did not have the proper players to play this defensive structure. That’s why more often than not, you saw players like Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano being underutilized because they weren’t responsible enough defensively, to fit with Claude Julien’s system. However league wide, players like Spooner and Vatrano seem to shine. Why is this? Coaches know their player’s strengths and weaknesses and put them in situations to shine, rather than fail.

Now, this is not saying that Claude Julien is a bad coach. Julien brought a cup back to Boston, something I and other Bruins fans are eternally grateful for. But he also was a big part of the reason the Bruins didn’t make the playoffs the last two seasons, and why they were close to not making the cut again this season. The NHL is going to get what they want, regardless of whether or not your team is on board with it. Playing a defensively minded game when the league has explicitly said and acted on the fact that they want more scoring seems redundant. If this team was going to continue with a defensive coach but an offensive roster, mediocrity would be its destiny until one of those things changed. With all these new rule changes to increase scoring, and Julien coaching his style, the Bruins would manage to be not the worst team in the league, but not the best either.

Thankfully, it seems as though with Bruce Cassidy at the helm, the Bruins are finally getting on board the offensive train. Albeit later than most teams, but not too late. In his time as coach, we’ve seen players like Adam Mcquaid suddenly activate offensively, going on a three-game point streak (the longest in his career) which included a beautiful backdoor goal against Carey Price. Other defensemen have also gotten involved more offensively as well with Kevan Miller scoring here and there, Colin Miller finally playing like the player we traded for, Brandon Carlo with a couple goals, you get the picture. The fact is, this is the way the league is going. Defenseman jumping in on the play instead of posting up at the blue line, teams having lines of just offensive forwards who rarely take defensive zone faceoffs, and forwards using their skating to create time and space.

So rest easy Bruins fans. The Bruins did not miss the offensive style train, they may have been late getting on, but the point is that they did get on.

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Wisconsin’s Regular Season Is Over for Bruins Prospects

(Above Photo Credit: uwbadgers .com)

By Mark Allred   Follow Me On Twitter  @BlackAndGold277

The University of Wisconsin’s Men’s regular season may be over with two losses over the weekend at the hands of Ohio State University, but their mission for a National Title still remains. The Badgers start the Big-Ten Tournament on Friday at 3:30 central time against the winner of recently played Ohio State or Michigan State who they’ve beat four times this season. Two Boston Bruins prospects that will be heading to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena are freshman forward Trent Frederic and forward Cameron Hughes.

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Trent Frederic

When healthy the 2016 first round selection of the B’s had an outstanding rookie season of collegiate hockey. In 28 games this season he contributed with 15-18-33 numbers and set the tone for further development. Frederic had a nice point streak during the 2016-17 season when he went on a season-high eight game point streak where he contributed 8-6-13 numbers. The 6′-2″ 205-pound center from St. Louis, Missouri wasn’t the popular selection by Bruins fans nor popular hockey personalities, but after this season many have changed their opinions after this season’s effort. The rumor from the 2016 NHL Draft from Buffalo, New York was the Anaheim Ducks were going to select Frederic with their 30th pick they acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins via the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Trent is a good north to south two-way player that has outstanding speed and puck possession skills. He’s a productive special teams player with a great shot and skating ability but also has to take advantage of his NCAA career to add body size if he’s going to challenge fro an NHL roster spot after graduation if he, in fact, stays in school. With the Bruins depth down the middle to keep him competitive in the NCAA would most likely be beneficial to both sides as he continues to hone his skills. As a fan myself I worry about the Bruins organization aggressively seeking help from the college ranks and asking a player to leave school like what had happened to Danton Heinen when he played at Denver University. I still believe Heinen left too early by watching every AHL Providence Bruins game this season.

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Cameron Hughes

The 2015 sixth round selection of the Bruins finished the 2016-17 regular season with career highs in goals, assists, and total points in his Junior year. A 6′-0″ 170-pound Edmonton, Alberta native ended the year with 7-24-31 numbers and has shown offensive progression after struggling in his freshman year to contribute 13 points in 34 games. One reason for his lack of points as a rookie was his shot, but after many training sessions during the offseason, he came back to his sophomore year posting 5-20-25 numbers. Every year we see good things in his continued development at the NCAA level.

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Now a 20-year-old soon to be a senior at Wisconsin University we are sure to see the same progression offensively as he’ll most likely finish his last season with the Badgers before turning pro and transition into a depth role in the Bruins minor-pro system. Cameron is a left shooting center that’s known to be a good “set-up” player with his smooth skating abilities while possessing a very high hockey IQ. He plays a strong two-way game, but as his development continues, he’s going to need more physical maturity. With increased body mass, mainly focused on upper-body strength, his shot could be a lethal one to start a potential AHL career after next season. His all-around game should be on the radar of the Bruins in a bottom six role as the organization continues to build the foundation of a franchise looking for future playoff seasons as it was not so many years ago.

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Tuukka Rask, Always Having To Prove Himself To The Fans

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(Above Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By Court Lalonde  @courtlalonde

I did a mini-social experiment the other day in a Facebook group I frequent. I asked them if they hated Tuukka Rask, could they please tell me why. I did ask them to give me reasons why and not just say he can’t win big games and what would be a solution in net. I did receive a lot of responses, along with he can’t win big games, but not one provided a solution.

June 24, 2006, the Boston Bruins traded Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 21st overall 2005 draft pick Tuukka Rask. Being a first round pick and a goalie, it was surprising at the time that the Leafs traded him. It is still talked about in the Toronto media as one of the worst trades in franchise history. The Bruins had soon to be Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Tim Thomas as their starter when Rask finally made his way over to North America to play. Thomas made it hard for Rask to crack the lineup with his outstanding play between the pipes for the Bruins.

In the 09-10 NHL season, Rask broke into the league and played 45 games with a 22-12 record and 1.97 goals against average. He wasn’t even nominated for the Calder trophy that year, even though he was the only goalie in the league that had goals against average below 2.00. 2011 he would win the Stanley Cup as the back-up to goalie Tim Thomas, but would become the starter the next season after Thomas was traded after a bad contract negotiation.

During the second round of the 2013 Playoffs, Rask faced 136 shots in four games and only allowed two goals against one of the highest scoring teams in the National Hockey League, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins would go on to the Stanley Cup finals and lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. I think this is where it all started with some fans thinking that he wasn’t an elite goalie and the Bruins should trade him. Fuel was added to the fire when the Bruins signed Rask to an eight-year, 56 million dollar contract following the finals loss. I would like to say that I can never understand when fans get mad at a player for his contract. The player didn’t force the team to sign him to that deal, and the management is the only one to blame if you don’t like a contract. Not one of you reading this would say no to 56 million dollars or even say that it’s too much and that you have been over-valued.  During the 2013-14 season, Tuukka would go on to win the Vezina Trophy himself with a 36-16-6 record and 2.04 GAA.

This season he has a record of 32-16-4 with 2.23 GAA and his first all-star game appearance. Fans continue to say that he can’t win big games or that he always lets in soft goals. He has beaten the hated Montreal Canadiens twice a year on the road and at home with a shutout in one of those games. If you look at the career numbers of Carey Price, Braden Holtby, and Henrik Lundquist, it is Rask that has the better career goals against average. These goalies are considered to be the elite goalies in the National Hockey League, and he has better GAA career wise than all of them and has better GAA then Carey Price this year.

 

Goalies can steal a game for you and keep you in the game, he did that last night against the Philadelphia Flyers in a must-win game. Yes, he hasn’t been great every night this year, but neither has the team in front of him. The game of hockey is a team sport, and they win and lose as a team. Some fans seem to blame him when we lose and say he was lucky when we win. You can hate Tuukka if you like because that is your right as a fan but just think about where this team would be without him next time.

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Bruins Spooner Out With Concussion

(Above Photo Credit:  Nesn .com )

By Mark Allred    Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced today that Ryan Spooner suffered a concussion and will be out indefinitely. The injury occurred in the third period of last night’s game against the Ottawa Senators who beat the B’s from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario by the score of 4-2. The 25-year-old Spooner will follow the league’s mandatory concussion protocol until a full evaluation can be conducted.

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In 65 games this season the 5′-10″ 183-pound defenseman has 11-23-34 numbers and has been playing better as of late dating back to the firing of former Head Coach Claude Julien. In 201 career NHL games, he’s posted 32-80-112 numbers in five seasons with the organization.

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Future Looks Bright With Brandon Carlo

NHL: NOV 05 Rangers at Bruins

(Fred Kfoury III/Icon sportswire)

By Court Lalonde

When Peter Chiarelli traded Johnny Boychuk on October 4th, 2014, all of Causeway Street was up in arms. He traded the defensemen for two second-round picks in 2015 and 2016, and it looked like Chiarelli gave him away to the New York Islanders. We can’t say that Chiarelli knew what he was doing and at the end of that season was relieved of his duties. Don Sweeney took over the GM duties of the Boston Bruins after the departure of Chiarelli and selected Brandon Carlo with the 37th pick of the 2015 National Hockey League entry draft. That was one of the picks the Bruins obtained in the Boychuk trade from the Islanders. The 6’5′ Carlo was projected at the time to be a top four defensemen in the NHL but would be a project and wouldn’t be NHL ready until at least 2018 according to most scouts. He wasn’t even the highest rated defensemen that drafted that year on their depth charts, which was first-round pick Jakub Zboril, who Bruins selected with their 13th overall pick.

Carlo would surprise us all and make the Bruins at the beginning of the 2016 season, right out of training camp. He didn’t just make the team but also earn a spot on the top pairing alongside team captain Zdeno Chara. Being paired with Chara has been a learning experience, and couldn’t have lucked out with a better teacher. Bruins fans started to like Carlo early because he registered an assist in his first game and scored in his second. He was able to move the opposing player away from the front of the net with his size and was able to move the puck the ice quickly to create scoring chances.

Carlo’s November showed us the potential we had with this rookie defensemen, and it became apparent that he was our future on the backend. If you look at his stats from the 15 games in November, the Bruins played you would never second guess his top pair status. During the 15 game period, he registered three points with a plus-five rating. The next couple month we have a different story because the play from the Bruins became very inconsistent, showing Carlo’s flaws which every rookie has. We started to see Carlo second guess himself and get caught out of position, and his lack of confidence with the puck caused he to dump it or give it away. It didn’t help that the media was speculating that he would trade him to the Colorado Avalanche for Gabriel Landeskog.

To Sweeney’s credit, he pushed those rumors aside and let the media know that he wasn’t trading Carlo. Sweeney said. “We want to be a team that believes it has internal fixes, which you are growing those players.” The trade deadline came and went, and so did Carlo’s first head coach Claude Julien, who was fired a couple weeks before. Julien was replaced by Bruce Cassidy, and that hasn’t change Carlo’s status as part of the top pairing beside Chara.
Carlo is having a great rookie campaign and people need to realize that he is going to make some mistakes from time to time, it’s what rookie do. I think he is going to be one of the cornerstones on the Bruins backend for years to come. Not every good defenseman shoots the lights out in his rookie year. Victor Hedman, who I feel Carlo plays a lot like only scored 20 points and was a minus-three in his rookie year. Carlo is part of the future for the Bruins, and that a good thing.

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Bruins Prospect Senyshyn Is Chasing 40

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By Mark Allred      Follow Me On Twitter  @BlackAndGold277

With a two-goal effort in last night’s 6-0 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds victory over the Guelph Storm, Boston Bruins prospect Zach Senyshyn is now just one goal away from reaching the 40 goal mark for the second consecutive season. Last year he set a career high of 45 goals and with seven games remaining in the regular season for the Greyhounds this year his chances are good to break his personal record.

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The 42-15-3-1 Greyhounds are sitting in second place in the Western Conference and with 88 points have clinched a spot in the 2017 OHL playoff picture. Currently at 39 goals so far this year the 6′-3″ 196-pound Ottawa, Ontario native has a slight advantage breaking the 40 goal mark as his Hounds travel to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium to take on the Rangers.  In 11 career OHL games against the Rangers, Senyshyn has 10-2-12 numbers against tomorrow’s opponent and could set the tone chasing a career high of 46 tally’s with the limited games remaining.

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The 2015 first round selection of the Bruins has 58 points in 52 games thus far and has 111-59-170 career stats in 188 games played. Senyshyn turns 20-years-old at the end of this March and will be eligible to play next season in the American Hockey League with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. As an organization, the right wing position looks thin in developmental ranks, and Zach certainly could add a new level of talent to the position. He could very well be a solid replacement for the slumping Jimmy Hayes who’s failed to live up to expectations as a local player playing for his childhood team.

Although Senyshyn started the 2016-17 OHL season with struggles, it didn’t take long for him to jump back on the horse offensively to find his game. In his first 14 games of this year, he went a slow 5-2-7 but got things together to go 34-17-51 in 38 games afterward. His slow start could be contributed to scary health situations over last summer’s offseason when he missed the Bruins annual development camp with a nasty care of Mononucleosis and missed September’s rookie camp with an emergency appendectomy. He did make a full recovery enough to participate in the NHL Bruins training camp before being released from his training camp experience back to his Greyhounds Canadian junior team.

Below is a link to last night’s 6-0 Sault Ste. Marie win over the Guelph Storm 

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Vs. The Guelph Storm Highlights Courtesy of the ontariohockeyleague.com website

 

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Bruce Cassidy, The Best Thing To Happen To Ryan Spooner

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

(Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports)

By Court Lalonde  (@courtlalonde)

Ryan Spooner has had his ups and down as a Boston Bruin and this year has been no exception. After being selected 45th overall by the Bruins in the 2010 National Hockey League entry draft, he remained in the Ontario Hockey League until his final year of eligibility. Spooner started his pro career with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, lead the team in scoring as a rookie with 17 goals, 40 assists, for 57 points in 59 games. He would get a crack at the Bruins lineup that year and play in four games but held off the score sheet.

He would continue to split his time with the Bruins and their farm team until the 2015-16 NHL season. It would be Spooner’s first full season in the NHL, and he would go on to score 13 goals, 36 assists, for 49 points. The Bruins saw promise in the young center and showed it by giving him time on the power play. When they drafted him, he was known for his hockey IQ, offensive-mind, but lacked size. Producing they way he did in the 2015-16 NHL season, he was proving those critics of his size wrong by utilizing his speed which would allow him to provide an offensive impact.

This year we saw Spooner struggle at the start of the season and play on the wing instead of his natural position of center. In the offseason, the Bruins signed three centermen. They signed David Backes, Riley Nash, Dominic Moore, and you can’t help but wonder what went through Spooner’s head when he saw the news this past summer. I’m sure it had him second guessing himself and if the Bruins had a long-term plan for him. He was still the skilled puck carrier with speed and creativity to make plays happen. He just wasn’t being used that way anymore except on the powerplay. Rumored that he could be a potential trade candidate late into the first month of the regular season but nothing came of it.

Spooner had played for interim head coach Bruce Cassidy before when he was in the minors, so you would assume he saw Cassidy replacing Claude Julien as coach of the Bruins to be a new chance. In 54 games under Julien this year, he had 27 points with points per game average of .50. He was on pace to have a 41 point season, which would have been a setback for his progression. In the seven games under Cassidy, he has two goals and four assists with a plus 1 rating. He is now averaging .86 points per game, which is a considerable improvement in the small sample size.

He seems perfect for this new system that Cassidy has implemented since taking over the duties as coach for the interim and possibly for good. It has allowed Spooner to use his speed and puck-moving skills to his advantage, by making scoring chances happen. Cassidy has put him back in his natural position of center, and we have all seen the constancy from the newly formed VHS line. By allowing our skilled players to skate with the puck and be more aggressive the future looks bright for Spooner in a Bruins jersey.

 

 

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