Bruins

Talking Points: Chara is fantastic at 40

chara_bruins1_232018.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Talking Points: Chara is fantastic at 40

GOLD STAR: Playing in his 1400th NHL game, it was vintage Zdeno Chara on the back end for the Bruins. He posted an assist and a team-best plus-2 rating in 24 minutes of ice time, generated six shot attempts, threw five hits blocked two shots and completely shut down Auston Matthews right along with the Patrice Bergeron line. Chara was right in the middle of everything while leading the Bruins in ice time by a wide margin, and must have really given Toronto something to think about if the two Atlantic Division teams do end up facing each other down the line in the playoffs. The plus-2 adds to Chara’s team-best plus-27 rating on the season, which also puts him into a tie with Vegas’ William Karlsson for the NHL lead in plus/minus. It’s true that at 40 years old Chara is having one of his best seasons in recent memory and really looks like he could continue doing this for at least a couple more seasons in Boston.

BLACK EYE: Did Auston Matthews even play on Saturday night? Toronto’s golden boy was held scoreless with a minus-2 rating, one measly shot on net, and three giveaways in 17:15 of ice time while getting a steady dose of Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron throughout the game. It had to be eye-opening for Matthews as to what he might expect if he gets locked up with the Black and Gold this spring, and how difficult a chore it’s going to be for the Leafs’ best offensive players going against a Bruins team playing at an extremely high level right now. That makes it two star players in a row that have been completely shut down as both Vladimir Tarasenko and Matthews in back-to-back games have done absolutely nothing against Boston’s best defensive players.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins really pulled away in the second period, outshooting the Leafs by an 11-7 margin and dropping a couple of goals on Toronto to break the 1-1 deadlock after the opening 20 minutes. What really opened the floodgates was a lazy tripping call on Patrick Marleau, who tripped Jake DeBrusk in the neutral zone rather than moving his feet with the play going right by him. It was an easy call right in front of the refs in the neutral zone, and that turned into a power play strike for David Pastrnak about 20 seconds later that broke open the tie game. Boston would another at the end of the period to really take control of the game, and then never looked back after that against a Leafs team that was outclassed at every turn.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug was excellent for the Bruins stepping up with Charlie McAvoy still feeling his way through a bit in his first game back. Krug had a goal and two points in 19:09 of ice time, and scored a big insurance power play strike at the end of the second period that really put the game out of reach for the Leafs. It was a beauty of a one-time strike off a good feed from Austin Czarnik and capped off a really strong night for No. 47 on the power play. Overall Krug had the two points, four shots on net, eight shot attempts overall and a hit in a solid night’s work on the back end. It feels like lately that Krug is taking his game to a higher level as he seems to do every season as he gets better as things go along.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 – the number of goals for Patrice Bergeron in his last 14 games, which gives him a team-leading 22 lamp-lighters on a season that’s turning out to be pretty special indeed for Boston’s best player.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There wasn’t a lot of down moments for us. The battle level, the pace…Toronto, when we played them, I remember last year, early this year, they were really skating. I thought we out-skated them tonight. At least that’s the way I saw it. They’re on their third in four nights; could that have something to do with it? I don’t know. It seems like every team has a busy schedule, but I liked the way we skated. –Bruce Cassidy, on a very convincing 4-1 win for the Bruins that snapped a seven game losing streak at the hands of the Maple Leafs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

bruins_anders_bjork_092517.jpg
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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE