Bruins

Five takeaways from Bruins-Islanders: Give a shout to B's fourth line

Five takeaways from Bruins-Islanders: Give a shout to B's fourth line

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 5-1 win over the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night: 
 
1) The Bruins have a fourth line that’s playing as well as any combo they’ve had since the Merlot Line. They dominated for portions of the second and third periods with long, cycling puck-possession shifts that ended with shots on net and chances, and were finally rewarded with goals for both Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari in the third period. You thought the hockey gods might reward them for really wearing down the Islanders over the course of the game, and that’s exactly what happened. Even better, the dominant play by the fourth line allowed Bruce Cassidy to roll his lines and keep the minutes down for Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and company. Clearly it will depend on Acciari being able to say healthy and the Bruins remaining generally healthy up front so they can leave the fourth line intact, but it will be interesting to see how good this trio can become if they’re left together. Clearly some nights and some matchups will be better than others, but it would seem the B’s have truly found their energy line with just enough offensive upside to make it interesting. 
 
2) It might not be the worst thing in the world for Brandon Carlo to sit for a game or two at this point with Adam McQuaid waiting in the wings for a return. The Bruins had a lot of bright spots in their 5-1 win, but the play of Carlo wasn’t one of them. He had three giveaways, including a bad, bad turnover in front of his own net after a Patrice Bergeron face-off win. Carlo fumbled with the puck and then fell down, leaving the puck all alone in front for Jordan Eberle to push it past Tuukka Rask for a gift goal. Carlo didn’t do anything quite as bad in the rest of his 19:20 of ice time, but he's had some pretty costly mistakes for the Bruins at points this season. He's the most logical player to sit and at least get McQuaid in the mix with a game or two to get him back into the swing of things. Let’s also not forget that Torey Krug and McQuaid have been longtime partners at the NHL level, and that might be exactly the kind of stabilizing force that Krug could use on his right side. It’s at least worth thinking about, though it doesn’t make too much sense to do it after a winning team-wide effort like the one against the Isles.  
 
3)  The streak is over for Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. The Carlo turnovercame with that line on the ice, and so they’ve now given up their first even-strength goal of the season. That’s the bad news, but it’s still miraculous that it took somewhere around 24 or 25 games for that line combination to finally get scored on during 5-on-5 play The good news is that after a few quiet games that line got back on the score sheet on Tuesday night with Bergeron notching the game-winning goal in the second period, and Marchand adding his own score in the third period after a nifty defense-to-offense play for Pastrnak. The even better news: Because Cassidy was able to roll lines vs. the Isles, Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak all played under 16 minutes of ice time. That’s exactly the kind of in-game usage that will preserve those players for when it really matters later in the season. 

PLUS

-- Tim Schaller led his fourth-line cohorts with four shots on net, and was finally rewarded for his blue-collar efforts with a third-period goal along . Schaller finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 in 11:54 of ice time, and had several high quality chances before finally scoring. 
 
-- It wasn’t a dominant night for Bergeron, but he made the plays the Bruins needed at the crunch-time moments of the game. It was Bergeron with the heads-up play to bat a puck out of mid-air at the net, and direct it toward his stick where he was able to throw a shot at the skate of Jaroslav Halak. That was the go-ahead goal in the second period and the ultimate game-winner before Boston’s three goals in the third period. 
 
-- Tuukka Rask stopped 25 of 26 shots and made some very good positional saves, increasing his unbeaten streak to 11-0-1 since his mid-November benching. Once again the Bruins were also mostly brilliant in front of him, and have been a big part of Rask’s up-turn in play. 

MINUS

-- Brandon Carlo had three giveaways including a ghastly turnover right in front of the net after a clean Bergeron face-off win in the defensive zone. That led to the Isles only goal and was the only blemish in an otherwise strong night for the Bruins.
 
-- John Tavares was really not good. He finished a minus-3, lost the face-off to Riley Nash cleanly that led to Danton Heinen’s goal off a draw play in the first period and managed just a single shot on net for the entire game. It’s tough for the Isles to win when that happens. 
 
-- New York is missing a number of players on the back end, and that was obvious while watching Scott Mayfield struggle to a minus-3 in 21:15 of ice time while getting over-exposed a bit. It will be a struggle for the Islanders until they get healthier on the back end. 

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Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

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File photo

Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months. 

Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin. 

The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.

He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury. 

Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.

Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.

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Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick. 

The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.

Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.

In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.

There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.

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