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Bruins analysis: What we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Wild

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Bruins analysis: What we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Wild

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

1)      It was a pretty good debut for Zach Senyshyn. The 22-year-old certainly hasn’t lit it up in the AHL the past two seasons and he was the last position player from the first round of the 2015 Draft to make his debut at the NHL level, so there is some skepticism that goes along with his appearance for Boston. But Senyshyn showed good speed, a good feel for getting to spots where he could shoot the puck and he picked up an empty-net goal at the very end of the game to put the cherry on top of the NHL debut sundae. Senyshyn finished with four shots on net, seven shot attempts, a hit and the empty-net goal in 12:41 of ice time along with a plus-1 rating for the game, and has to feel motivated to really bring it next season and get a longer look at the NHL level. The Bruins could certainly use a 6-foot-3 winger with speed who can finish plays if Senyshyn can really amp up the consistency, the tenaciousness and the production from his first two AHL seasons. All that being said, he’s a long way from making anybody forget about Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor or Brock Boeser anytime soon.

2)      The Bruins' worst nightmares were almost realized when Kevan Miller took a tumble knee-first into the boards after battling with Jordan Greenway for a puck as the two big bodies went into the corner. Miller was gimpy when he finally got up after crashing into the boards, and he missed most of the second period before returning for a shift prior to the second intermission. Miller wasn’t seen in the third period, but Bruce Cassidy said following the game that the rugged defenseman was held out for precautionary purposes and may play on Saturday. Since Miller has basically missed half the season with an assortment of injuries, though, it might just be better for both Miller and the Bruins if he sits out the Saturday afternoon regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then again, Connor Clifton has shown that he’s a pretty good backup plan should Miller get dinged up during the postseason, and he was throwing hard hits and being tough to play against vs. the Wild again on Thursday night.

3)      Noel Acciari continues to live up to his words about his game being made for the playoffs. He’s played extremely well over the last few weeks, and once again tipped a puck away from the Minny defense to set up Joakim Nordstrom’s game-winning goal. It was a heads-up play after Matt Grzelcyk’s point shot had glanced off the post and then bounced off the end boards before popping to a 50/50 puck battle between Acciari and Anthony Bitetto. Acciari won that battle by poking the puck away to the wide open Nordstrom, and the rest was history with the B’s opening goal in a shutout win. Acciari finished with six shots on net, eight shot attempts and three hits in 14:59 of ice time, and was physical, productive and playing with the kind of energy that could be difference-making when it gets to the postseason. It will be a challenge regardless of who he’s playing with, and playing against, on the fourth line once the postseason begins, but Acciari is showing that he might just be up for the challenge. That’s very encouraging particularly with Sean Kuraly out to start the playoffs with his hand injury.

Plus

*Noel Acciari set up the game-winner with a heads-up play around the net, led the Bruins with six shots on net and played with equal parts energy and effectiveness in his 14:59 of ice time.

*Joakim Nordstrom doesn’t get a lot of credit for the season he’s had with the Bruins, but he seems to almost always score important goals for the B’s as he did with the game-winner against Minnesota.

*Zach Senyshyn scored an empty-net goal in his NHL debut and perhaps more importantly had an easy enough time getting his shot off and getting chances against the Wild. It’s an encouraging sign he may have something to give Boston next season.

Minus

*Ryan Donato had a couple of scoring chances and he had four shots on net for the Wild, but he also was a minus-2 against his former Bruins teammates and once again looked like he’s got some things to learn in the defensive zone.

*No shots on net, two giveaways and a minus-1 for Jason Zucker in a meaningless end-of-the-season game that the Wild forward was treating as such.

*No shots on net for Danton Heinen in 14:04 of ice time in a quiet game that needs to be a whole lot less quiet once the postseason gets going. There will be competition for his lineup spot if he can’t be a difference-maker. 

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NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

The NHL is officially returning to play.

The league and NHLPA ratified the Return to Play Plan and a new CBA deal Friday, paving the way for the 2019-20 season to finish. The regular season is over, but the league is not yet jumping into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The top four teams in each conference will determine their seeding for the first round by playing a round robin format. The teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will square off in a qualifying round that will use a Best-of-5 series format. The four winners of the qualifying series in each conference will be matched up against the top four teams for the first round based on seeding.

These games will take place in two host cities. The Eastern Conference games will be played at Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Here's the schedule for every round robin game and qualifying round series. Check back to this article after each game for scores and updated schedules.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning 3, Bruins 2
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flyers 3, Capitals 1
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers 4, Lightning 1
Saturday, Aug. 9: Capitals 2, Bruins 1

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (No. 12) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (OT)
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
Canadiens win series 3-1

(No. 6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (No. 11) New York Rangers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Hurricanes win series 3-0

(No. 7) New York Islanders vs. (No. 10) Florida Panthers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Islanders 4, Panthers 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Panthers 3, Islanders 2
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders 5, Panthers 1
Islanders win series 3-1

(No. 8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (No. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 5, Stars 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights 6, Blues 4
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars 2, Blues 1 (SO)

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (No. 12) Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Blackhawks 4, Oilers 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 2
Blackhawks win series 3-1

(No. 6) Nashville Predators vs. (No. 11) Arizona Coyotes
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Coyotes 4, Predators 1
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Coyotes win series 3-1

(No. 7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (No. 10) Minnesota Wild
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks 3, Wild 0
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks 5, Wild 4 (OT)
Canucks win series 3-1

(No. 8) Calgary Flames vs. (No. 9) Winnipeg Jets
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames 4, Jets 0
Flames win series 3-1

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

The NHL round robin is finally over for the Boston Bruins, and soon their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final will resume.

The Bruins lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals on Sunday in their third and final round robin game. Boston dropped all three matchups and earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for their lackluster results.

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The B's will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. It's a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Final, which Boston won in a sweep.

Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Bruins vs. Capitals and assess their merit (All advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Lack of power play success is a concern
Verdict: Overreaction

The Bruins entered Sunday as one of four teams in the league's 24-team restart that still hadn't scored a power-play goal, and Boston wasn't able to change that fact against the Capitals. The B's went 0-for-2 on the power play versus Washington, leaving the Original Six club with an 0-for-9 mark on the man advantage through the three round robin games. 

So, why shouldn't we be concerned over the Bruins power play? Well, for starters, Boston had the second-best power play during the regular season at 25.2 percent. Only the Edmonton Oilers scored more power-play goals than the B's. The Bruins also have several players with high-end offensive skill to put on their player play units, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug. Boston's top line struggled in the round robin with zero goals and one assist, but when it inevitably heats up, the power play will benefit as well.

It's important not to take too much from a three-game sample size of the power play right after a four-month layoff. That said, the Bruins need their power play to be more effective in the first round of the playoffs if they're going to give themselves the highest possible chance at advancing. 

2. Bruins' round robin struggles will carry into Round 1
Verdict: Overreaction

The round robin was important, make no mistake about that. Even though seeding is less crucial than usual because home ice advantage is not a factor in the Toronto bubble, earning a high seed would still have been helpful in forging the easiest possible road to the Stanley Cup Final. The league will re-seed after each round of the playoffs instead of using a traditional bracket, so the No. 1 seed will play the lowest-seeded opponent in each round. 

The Bruins, judging by their comments and on-ice play, don't seem too concerned about seeding. In fairness, the most important things for the Bruins in the round robin were to get their legs back after not playing for a while and avoid injuries. The Bruins will enter Round 1 of the playoffs with a pretty healthy roster, and while their performance in the round robin was certainly less-than-stellar, they played better in the last two games compared to the awful 4-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers in the opener.

The next games actually matter, and for a veteran group with loads of playoff and championship experience, we should see a hungrier and more motivated Bruins team when the puck drops in Game 1 against the Hurricanes.

3. David Krejci line took an important step forward vs. Capitals
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Bruins' second line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase played together for the first time in the round robin Sunday, and it gave an encouraging performance.

Overall, the Krejci line held a 10-5 advantage in shot attempts, a 4-1 edge in shots on goal and a 3-1 lead in scoring chances during 5-on-5 action against the Capitals.

Kase was making his round robin debut and made a nice pass to DeBrusk on Boston's only goal. Krejci also picked up an assist on the play.

This goal for DeBrusk was huge. The 23-year-old left winger had scored only one goal in his previous 16 games dating back to the regular season. Hopefully for the B's, this goal helps to spark some consistency in DeBrusk's game entering the playoffs.

Secondary scoring is going to be a huge factor for the Bruins in the postseason, and this second line will play a huge part in whether Boston generates enough offense to make a deep run.