David Pastrnak Re-Ups with Boston Bruins

David Pastrnak

Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Bob Mand             Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyMand

David Pastrnak signed a 6 year, 40 million dollar extension with the Boston Bruins Thursday morning ending months of speculation regarding the relationship between the team and the player. The deal includes no trade clause and will have the winger in Black and Gold at least through the summer of 2023.

Finally <exhales>.

Many in the Boston area and the sports world in general were concerned that the relationship had degraded significantly following ceaseless conjecture about the negotiation’s sticking-points. Some had opined that the Bruins’ forward was asking for double-digit rewards and some that the Bruins wouldn’t budge above their current leaders’ (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci) salaries… both assumptions were proven wrong Thursday morning, though the scales certainly appear tilted in the team’s favor.

The signing marked what some consider a complete coup by the Bruins’ management group, especially given the contracts recently handed out to Alexander Wennberg and Leon Draisaitl. Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney said, “Draisaitl is a comparable, certainly, as were other players.”

“There’s a lot of variables that go into it, a lot of work…” said Sweeney. That work played out in a four-month melodrama with hints of fleeing overseas, bombshells dropped by GMs in other cities, and rumors of ridiculous demands by both parties.

There’s a lot of good and a teaspoon of ‘bad’ in the Bruins’ now ironed-out arrangement with Pasta. The deal is almost a full two million dollars per season less than Edmonton’s contract with Draisaitl. Pasta is better and younger than many of his in-range comparables… and if exceeded, only exceeded by a very limited amount.

The main drawback of this deal is the length. I – and many others – were hoping for a longer, perhaps the eight-year max deal, to buy out an extra two years of unrestricted free agent eligibility from Pastrnak. If he plays like one might expect him to – with a perennial 30-45-75 slash, minimum – he will be due for a monster (repeat monster) deal after the 2022-23 campaign. Six years is a long way off, true, but Pastrnak will (unlike many players coming off a long-term second contract) still be deep in his prime at age 27. Financially it might have been better to bite the bullet on an extra half-million to million annually to preserve their rights until his age-28 year.

Conversely, by retaining Pastrnak for only $6.67 million AAV, the Bruins opened a window to add another veteran to help the Bergeron and Co. core win now. According to Capfriendly, with a 22 man roster (meaning two players riding the elevator to the press box each night), the Boston Bruins are $2.6 million under the cap.

If the Bruins were to trade for, let’s say, a winger with a cap hit just shy of six million, they could manage it even now if they sent back a little salary in addition to perhaps getting some cap retention from the other side. Their cap space balloons to over twelve million dollars come the deadline, giving them the flexibility to add more than one skater, should the need arise. Now, and for the next half-dozen years, Boston will be the beneficiary of some savvy leverage-work by Sweeney.

“We feel like David is a big part of what [they’re doing] going forward,” said GM Don Sweeney at his press conference this morning. About that, there is no question now. No question at all.

 

Boston Bruins lockup their goaltenders

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By: Andrew Thompson                                                          Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins found themselves back in the playoffs last season after a two-year drought. One of the biggest reasons why the B’s found themselves back in the playoff hunt was their goaltending. (OK, it was entirely Tuukka Rask for the first half of the season, and mostly him for the second half.)

The Bruins had already locked up both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin for next season. But the B’s were going to need some insurance. The Bruins ugly start to the season showed just how badly they were going to need quality goaltending to help back of Rask and Khudboin in case of injury.

The Bruins organization locked up their goaltenders today by signing both Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to two-year, two-way contracts. Both contracts are worth a very modest $650,000 at the NHL level.

In all honesty, Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban didn’t have their best NHL starts last season. (McIntyre was 0-4-1, with a 3.97 GAA and a .858 save percentage. Subban was 0-1, with a 5.81 GAA and a .813 save percentage.) But they’ve had another season in the AHL to get better and be ready for their next call up to the big leagues.

McIntyre shined between the pipes for Providence last season. He had a 21-6-1 record with a 2.03 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He was the best AHL goaltender in goals against and second in save percentage. He was tapped to be a goalie in the 2017 AHL All-Star game and was part of the second team of AHL All-Stars.

Subban went 11-14-1 and last season for Providence putting up a decent 2.41 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

Both players will surely be invited to the Bruins training camp in September. They’ll both be given a shot to prove they can steal the number two job away from Khudobin. With Daniel Vladar coming up in the ranks of the Bruins goalie depth, the B’s will surely encourage both of them to try for the number two job. At the moment, McIntyre and Subban are the one-two combo for Providence next season.

Zane McIntyre will likely see several games in Boston this season. At the moment, he looks to be the next number two goaltender for Boston once Khudobin’s contract is up. Malcolm Subban continues to improve and it’s not outside the realm of reason to see the B’s put him the net a few times as well.

The Bruins appear to be locked in to the youth movement next year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that included a goaltender.

 

 

Andrew Ference Calls It A Career

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Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com

By: Andrew Thompson                                                            Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

Yesterday, former Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference decided to hang up the skates after a 16-year NHL career. The 38-year old blueliner spent seven seasons in Boston, helping the Black and Gold secure their first Stanley Cup in a generation back in 2011.

Ference appeared in 907 NHL games in the course of his career, putting up 225 points (43 goals) and and equally impressive 753 penalty minutes. He also played in 120 playoff games, racking up 38 points (eight goals) and 122 penalty minutes.

Ference had no regrets in hanging up the skates, and tried to thank as many people as possible on helping achieve and sustain such a long career in hockey.

“As I graduate from my time of playing in the NHL, I realize I have the problem of being unable to properly thank the hundreds of people who have helped me achieve my goal of playing in the best league in the world,” said Ference on the NHL Players’ Association website. “No one gets here on their own, especially average-sized guys with average skills. If you think you deserve a thank you from me, you probably do … Thanks!”

Ference wasn’t only known for his hockey skills.  He became a staunch defender of the environment, and embraced the unofficial nickname of ‘Captain Planet’. There are still posters of Ference urging Bostonians to do what they can to help the planet around the city (most notably outside the Boston Public Library).

He was also a strong defender of the LBGT community, and was the first pro athlete to march in Edmonton’s PRIDE parade.

Ference’s tenure as the Oilers captain was short-lived. He was sidelined by a hip injury back in 2015. It limited him to six games in the 2015-16 season, and forced him to sit out the 2016-17 season. He signed off on giving Connor McDavid the captaincy of the Oilers when it became clear he’d be unable to play last season.

Andrew Ference never did anything in half-measures. He was committed to helping his team the best that he could be. He had no reservations about putting his body on the line to block a shot, stop a play in the defensive zone, or throw down the gloves to support his team. His workout regimen was half-example/half-challenge to the younger Bruins players that were coming up in Boston.

While Ference was known for using his body as a shield or a sledgehammer, he’ll most likely be remembered in Boston for the use of one of his fingers.

Ference was fined $2500 for that finger and later apologized for it.

Ference isn’t the only member of the 2011 Stanley Cup team who retired this year. Shawn Thornton hung up the skates to become a Vice President in the Florida Panthers organization. Gregory Campbell retired to become a coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Godspeed Captain Planet. You taught us how to love the planet, hate the Habs, and reminded us to remind you to always shoot the puck.

 

 

Bruins Sign Szwarz To One-Year Deal

( Above Photo Credit:  CirclingTheWagon .com )

By: Mark Allred                        Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier today that the team has come to an agreement on keeping forward Jordan Szwarz with the organization for another year. The 26-year-old Ontario, Canada native has played in 312 career American Hockey League games primarily with the Arizona Coyotes minor-pro affiliates posting 69-97-166 numbers but in 35 career National Hockey League games when he’s been called upon has only produced four points with a +/- of -8. The deal with Szwarz is a two-way deal worth a reportedly $650,000 at the NHL level.

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Last season the 5′-11″ versatile forward (C/RW) played his only season with Boston’s top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins after starting the 2016-17 campaign as an invite to training camp which turned into aa professional; try-out shortly after.  The Baby B’s franchise saw enough of the crafty forward and signed him to an AHL one-year deal in early November of 2016 where he’d go on to play in 65 games last season posting career highs with 22-32-54 numbers and lead the Providence team in scoring just five points ahead of Bruins prospect Jake DeBrusk who had 49 points.

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From watching every Baby B’s game last year that he made an appearance, I have to say I was pleased with his production as a smaller player not only in 5V5 gameplay but a lethal weapon on the special teams as he uses his quick speed to avoid troubling scenarios.  I thought him and Austin Czarnik worked well together covering the 200 feet of ice on a game to game basis. Hard for me to judge if he’s a candidate for a roster spot in September but will certainly challenge some players who are also heavily favored to be in the mix of playing in the NHL for the first time. If Providence is an option, I believe he has the skill and capabilities to pass 60 points next season and could benefit greatly with newcomers Jesse Gabrielle and Zach Senyshyn eligible for full AHL time in 2017-18.

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Boston Bruins Release List Of Protected Players (or how Kevan Miller won the Expansion Draft Sweepstakes)

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Photo Courtesy of NESN

By Andrew Thompson                                                                       Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins released their list of protected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft. The Bruins have two options in protecting their players from the new Las Vegas team joining the league this year.  The Black and Gold chose to employ the 7-3-1 option, meaning seven forwards, three defencemen, and Tuukka Rask were taken off the board for Vegas.

The Bruins chose to protect (or had no choice due to contact clauses) the seven players among the forwards:

David Backes
Patrice Bergeron
David Krejci
Brad Marchand
Riley Nash
David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner

Riley Nash was a bit of a surprise.

The 28-year old forward did his job as a bottom-six player for Boston. His 17 point (seven goal) season wasn’t thrilling overall, but the former Cornell product ate up minutes and helped make the B’s fourth line the best it has been since the time of the Merlot Line.

For some reason, some people scratched their heads at Ryan Spooner.

In all honesty, keeping Spooner was a no-brainer for Boston. Not so much for what he brings to the team, but what moving him could bring to TD Garden.

Unless something drastically changes in the offseason, Spooner is leaving Boston. While he still has a decent amount of value (and a certain level of untapped potential), he’s just not cutting it in the Black and Gold. Claude Julien didn’t like his defensive game at the start of the season. Bruce Cassidy didn’t like his offensive game at the end of it.

Still, Spooner can be used as part of a package deal to get either a depending top-six left-winger or a left-shooting blueliner.

The Bruins could only protect three defencemen, and they (for better or worse) made the best of an unpleasant situation. Here are the protected blueliners for Boston.

Zdeno Chara
Torey Krug
Kevan Miller

During the offseason, it became clear that the Bruins were only going to protect one of the Millers when it came time for the expansion draft. The B’s decided to protect the 29-year old Kevan Miller rather than the 24-year old Colin Miller.

Personally, I thought keeping Kevan Miller was a mistake. It almost seemed an act of hubris on the part of the Bruins front office. The Bruins believe they can be a Stanley Cup team next year. That’s either fantastically optimistic or someone’s been putting too much bourbon in that dirty water at the TD Garden.

There is also the ugly fact that Kevan Miller is at the edge of his skill set and Colin Miller is still improving. Kevan Miller is a bottom-pair blueliner, while Colin Miller could be more for Boston. (‘Could’ being the operative word.) That’s part of the reason why the B’s went with the pugilistic Miller over the potential Miller. (The B’s were willing to go with what they know they had over what they might have.)

The other part of the Kevan of Colin choice is the B’s depth chart. Charlie McAvoy will be a full-time Bruin next year.  Rob O’Gara and Matt Grzelcyk are playing with Providence, and both have a shot of making the roster in October.  Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril could be ready in the next 18 months. With so much talent in the barn, the B’s front office might have thought that Colin Miller would be superfluous.

We’ll see how this plays out at the Expansion Draft. A few months ago, I argued that whichever Miller wasn’t protected would be grabbed by Las Vegas. That still seems to be the plan. The Golden Knights may choose defenceman Adam McQuaid, but his extensive collection of injuries might make Vegas wary.

So, congratulations to Kevan Miller the winner of the Expansion Draft Sweepstakes.

Don Sweeney Willing To Give Up The B’s First Round Pick

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Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney outside the B’s locker room (Photo: Boston Bruins)

It’s going to be an interesting few weeks for the Boston Bruins organization. In three weeks, the Black and Gold head into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Bruins are heading into the draft with the 18th overall pick. They also have five other picks this year.

B’s general manager Don Sweeney recently discussed the possibility of giving up their first round pick.

Sweeney isn’t afraid of making big moves for the team.  He’s made 16 picks in the last two drafts. Of those 16 picks, nine have been in the first two rounds, and five were first rounders. The B’s have a strong stable of up-and-comers, and Sweeney might just not like what’s available at the 18th spot this season.

He’s also not afraid of shaking up the Black and Gold locker room either. Two years ago, he moved forward Milan Lucic and defenceman Dougie Hamilton. While these moves opened up spots for players like David Pastrnak, the team’s inability to replace Hamilton has hurt the team down the line.

So what are the Bruins looking for?

The Bruins most desperately need is a another left-shooting defenceman. Zdeno Chara is still the B’s best left-side blueliner. But Chara is now 40.  While the aging captain was still the Bruins best overall defenceman last season, it’s doubtful that he can have another full season playing 28 minutes a night.

Chara will still end up on the top line next season. He’ll continue to tutor Brandon Carlo. The upcoming expansion draft will likely pull one of the Bruins remaining blueliners. At the moment, it’s a three-way draw to see who gets grabbed by Vegas (Adam McQuaid or one of the Millers (Kevan/Colin)).

That leaves Chara/Carlo on the top line, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy on the second line, and the surviving Miller and Adam McQuaid (who due to his long list of injuries in unlikely to be picked up by the Golden Knights) as the final defensive pair.  If the B’s sustain any serious injuries next year, they’ll look like they did in the first round against Ottawa in April.

The B’s will be sniffing around looking for a deal, but will be wary of getting taken to the cleaners. Last year, the Bruins attempted to grab Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk, but balked at the extremely high price asked for by St. Louis. The B’s might be willing to use their first rounder plus a player like forward Ryan Spooner to get a strong blueliner for Boston.

While it’s far less likely, the B’s could trade the first round pick for a forward. After Brad Marchand, things look rough on the left side. If the B’s keep Dominic Moore, he’ll end up staying on the fourth line.  Tim Schaller and Frank Vatrano don’t look like top six material just yet. Finally, the B’s may not have the patience to give Matt Beleskey another full season to be underwhelming.

On a side note, it could be a good time to move Spooner. The 25-year old was supposed to be a top-six forward by now. But his game still has a Jekyll-and-Hyde feel to it. Claude Julien didn’t like his defensive game at the start of the season, and Bruce Cassidy didn’t like his offensive game at the end of it. Spooner still has potential, and his value could certainly entice another team in giving up a defenceman.

Personally, if Sweeney can find a solid defender for a first-round pick (and Spooner) then great. It would solve certain problems without adding any liabilities to the team. We’ll see how Sweeney handles the pick when the Entry Draft starts on June 23.

 

 

 

 

 

Former Boston Bruin Shawn Thornton Calls It A Career

 

IMG_2027As of today, former Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has officially hung up the skates. The 39-year old forward/pugilist extraordinaire had an unusual but memorable NHL career, putting in 14 seasons. The two-time Stanley Cup champion spent seven seasons with the Black and Gold, and was one of the X factors in the Bruins Cup victory in 2011.

Thornton officially played his last game on April 8.  He finished with two shots on goal and four hits spread out over 15:06 of ice time. After the game, Thornton retired his skates to a trash can in the Florida locker room. The skates ended up on eBay, helping raise $2,500 for Thornton’s foundation.

The Florida Panthers didn’t acquire Thornton for his numbers. They made him a Panther for his character.  Sure, saying someone is “great in the locker room” has become cliche.  But in Thornton’s case, it was spot on.

“The whole idea was to bring in Shawn to help our hockey team, help them learn how to win, how to have that fierce spirit,” said Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell according to SI. com . “We’ve seen what Shawn did to our locker room, positively and how great he was with our young players, how much of a warrior and leader he was. We’re maniacal about culture and having people really care about the company and put its purpose and mission above their own. We just felt Shawn could really bring that, especially to the business side.”

Now Thornton will be moving on to a front office job with the Panthers organization. He’ll certainly bring a new perspective to the Panthers management structure. He’ll likely be the first serious ‘hockey voice’ in the room.

He ended up with 705 career NHL games and over 1100 penalty minutes. (Thornton’s last NHL fight was against Andrew Desjardins on March 25. The Panthers trounced the Chicago Blackhawks 7-0.)

Thornton was a stand-up guy for the Bruins. When he was on the ice, he kept the other team honest. When hard play and menacing glares didn’t work, he knocked the stuffing out of them.

As a Bruins fan, you’ve likely got your favorite Shawn Thornton fight. This one is mine.

Thornton was a monster on the ice. He was a completely different person off it. He’s a gregarious character who is more than willing to laugh at himself. He joked about my ‘Merlot Line’ jersey when I had him sign it at a Bruins charity event. (He was kind enough to laugh when I told him a proper Thornton jersey would be made out of Kevlar.)

Shawn Thornton and Tim Thomas were my favorite players in the year they won the Cup. There were multiple similarities in their careers. Both were considered extreme long shots (on paper) on having a meaningful NHL career. They both overcame rough starts early on in their careers. Both of them became very good at their jobs, and you were never quite sure what they were going to say in an interview.

(As someone who has had the privilege of interviewing Bruins players from time to time, its those kind ‘He just said what?!’ of moments that make me glad I decided to become a sportswriter.)

Thornton’s ready for the next chapter. While he may miss being on the ice, there is one thing he’s glad he’ll never have to deal with again. “I’m just enjoying the thought that I’m never going to have to get punched in the face ever again for the rest of my life,” said Thornton.

Don’t say never just yet Thorty. You might see Matt Cooke at an alumni game.

So Godspeed Quiet Man.  It was fun to watch you on the ice, and a personal life highlight to meet you in person.

Boston Bruins Survive Game 5, Head Back To TD Garden on Sunday

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By Andrew Thompson                                                                     Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins have not gotten a fair shake from the referees this playoff series. Still, the Black and Gold have found ways to stay alive against the Ottawa Senators.

The Boston Bruins had to play five periods of hockey in order to keep their playoff hopes alive on Friday night. Through determination and grit (and in spite of the refs who were either motivated by bias and/or ignorance), the B’s found a way to win, beating the Senators 3-2 in double overtime.

There were several heroes for the Bruins on Friday.

Bruce Cassidy was the first. The Bruins interim head coach decided to swap out forward Ryan Spooner (who may have played his last game as a member of the B’s) for Sean Kuraly.  Kuraly would have likely seen very limited playing time if it wasn’t for the lower body injury to David Krejci. Cassidy had to endure several bad calls before Kuraly netted the overtime winner.

Sean Kuraly is certainly the second hero of the game. He earned his first two NHL goals, including the double overtime winner for Boston. His first goal helped tie it up in the second period.

His second goal saved the season for the Bruins.

Kuraly had an outstanding night for Boston. The 24-year old forward finished the game with six shots on goal, three hits, one block, and a takeaway.  What makes it more impressive is that the he was able to get all that done in just 18 minutes of ice time.

“I liked his game early in the series, but we had guys that had been here, [David Krejci] came back…we liked him, we just had guys ahead of him,” said Cassidy of Kuraly. “One door closed, another one opened…he took advantage of his opportunity, started at the bottom of the lineup. We needed him more. He had the energy.”

The Bruins have been relying on the ‘next man up’ principle this postseason. With the list of injured players piling up, the young B’s have been asked to step up. By and large, the young players have done that in Boston.

“He’s got the tools, he’s flying,” offered B’s alternate captain David Backes on Kuraly’s heroics. “He makes a play by getting in on the forecheck, I’m able to be the second guy in there, he gets into open ice and brings it to the net hard the way we’ve talked about and scores his first NHL goal.

“With Krech out, we need some guys to step up. Certainly tonight was his night…great kid that works his butt off. You love to see it….that’s as fun as it gets.”

Tuukka Rask was the other big hero for Boston. When the B’s were down 2-0 due to an ugly pair of breakaways, the Finnish netminder buckled down and refused to allow another Senator to score on him.

Rask had 41 saves in the game. He stopped all five power play attempts by the Senators and kept the team in it when the refs really put the screws to Boston.

Now the Bruins head back to Boston to see if they can pull out another win against the Senators on Sunday.

Boston Bruins: One Down, Fifteen To Go

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By Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

Even without putting up a single shot on goal in the second period, the Boston Bruins found their identity late in the game. Their 2-1 win gave them an early advantage on a team that has had their number this year.

The Boston Bruins weren’t supposed to win on Wednesday.  They were missing several important pieces to their puzzle. Defencemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were out, with Krug likely out for the series.  Forwards David Krejci and Noel Acciari weren’t able to play either. The Bruins even had eight players (including Charlie McAvoy) making their playoff debuts against a team that had beaten them every game of the regular season.

Still, the Bruins found a way to win. It started with Tuukka Rask being an outstanding goaltender. Rask stopped 26 of 27 shots, and kept the Boston Bruins alive and kicking, especially during the second period.

“Tuukka’s got excellent playoff numbers, and he’s coming into the playoffs, I think, with a decent amount of rest and confidence,” offered interim head coach Bruce Cassidy on Rask. “He’s played very well of late, so good for him. He looks composed as well and did a real good job for us.

“And we needed it, because it could have gotten away from us in the second period.”

While Rask was the Bruins best player on the ice on Wednesday, the win occurred because other players skated into the roles of the players missing from the lineup. John-Michael Liles and Adam McQuaid filled in most of the holes on defence and played some of their best hockey.

Then there is Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins welcomed him to the team by having his first ever NHL game be a playoff one. McAvoy looked like he was just playing another college hockey game. There was no tentativeness or hesitation in his play. He ended up playing over 24 minutes for Boston (second only behind Zdeno Chara on the team).

While David Krejci’s absence was missed, the B’s found a way to win. Once again, other people stepped up into the job. Frank Vatrano tied it up for the B’s early in the third period. That goal gave the Bruins life again, and the team responded.

Then Brad Marchand did Brad Marchand things (with the help of Patrice Bergeron) and got the Bruins their first playoff win in three years.

The Bruins know it’s going to be an uphill climb the whole postseason. They’re going to have to want to win every night and then go out there and do it. That’s the reason why the Bruins won game one. They wanted it more.

Now, they’re going to need to continue to dig deep and keep finding that will to win. For the B’s it is a matter of being one game down and fifteen left to go.

Brad Marchand Suspended Two Games For Spear of Jake Dotchin

By Andrew Thompson                                                       Twitter: @godwentwhoops

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 04: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins prepares for a faceoff against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on February 4, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand was suspended for two games for his hit on Tampa blueliner Jake Dotchin.  The suspension means the Bruins will be without their top scorer for the remainder of the regular season.

Marchand was considered a repeat offender under the terms of the most recent CBA. The two game suspension will cost the Halifax, Nova Scotia native $109,756.10. (Making it one of the most expensive cup checks in NHL history.) That money will end up going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

“It was an undisciplined penalty, there’s no question about that, and it could have cost the team a very important game,” said Marchand of his hit of Dotchin. “But the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game.”

The Bruins went on to win that game 4-0. The victory helped Boston clinch their first trip to the postseason in three years.

Marchand could have been the first Bruins player to have a 40 goal season in 14 years. Now, he’ll have to sit out two important games because he let his temper run away from him (again). It’s actions like this that keep NHL fans in general from seeing what an elite player the 28-year old Marchand is.

Now the Bruins will have to carry on without Marchand as they take on the Ottawa Senators and the Washington Capitals in the final two games of the regular season. Bruce Cassidy will have to make moves to replace Marchand in the top line, and with his absence another Bruins forward will have to step up and fill that hole.

“If it does happen [that we’re without Brad], I think it’s about doing what we did last night when we lost him,” offered Patrice Bergeron about how the B’s will handle the game without Marchand. “It’s everyone stepping up and I thought everyone did a good job of staying with it and being positive and doing our job, so that’s how we have to approach it.”

Marchand won’t be the only player off the ice for Boston tonight. Frank Vatrano, Tim Schaller, and Jimmy Hayes were all questionable yesterday. None of them may be able to play and that will certainly make it harder for Boston.

A Bruins win would give the B’s the second slot in the Atlantic. The puck drops at 7:05 at the TD Garden.