Bruins

Bruins considering adding Karson Kuhlman back into lineup for Game 6

Bruins considering adding Karson Kuhlman back into lineup for Game 6

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins rookie Karson Kuhlman has been a healthy scratch for the last couple of games, but it looks like the speedy, smart young forward might draw back in for do-or-die time with the Black and Gold.

Kuhlman was among the top-12 forwards during the line rushes for the Bruins at Saturday’s practice at Warrior ice Arena, and Bruce Cassidy indicated that the former University of Minnesota-Duluth standout is knocking the door to get back into the lineup.

“We might make a few adjustments. Tuukka is going to be in the net and then we’ll go from there,” said Bruce Cassidy of his Game 6 lineup. “We’re considering [Kuhlman]. Certainly he’s played well for us and he adds an element of speed and responsibility.”

The 23-year-old Kuhlman suited up for the first three games of the series against the Maple Leafs and finished with an assist and six shots on net in three Stanley Cup playoff games with the Black and Gold. It appeared that 34-year-old David Backes would be the odd-man out if Kuhlman draws back into the lineup for Game 6 at Scotiabank Arena. Backes played under five minutes in Friday night’s Game 5 loss to the Maple Leafs, and has increasingly had difficulty making an impact in the series as his skating game has slowed against Toronto.

With that in mind trading out Backes for Kuhlman would up the speed factor for the B’s against a Maple Leafs team that’s controlled them in the series with their speed and skill level.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairing against the Maple Leafs for Game 6 based on Saturday’s practice:

LINE COMBOS

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Johansson

Heinen-Coyle-Kuhlman

Kuraly-Acciari-Wagner

D-PAIRINGS

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore

Rask 

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David Pastrnak needs to toughen up for the Bruins and knows it

David Pastrnak needs to toughen up for the Bruins and knows it

BRIGHTON, Mass – David Pastrnak was quick to say that whatever discomfort he had with his surgically repaired thumb didn’t impact his very erratic playoff performance.

It “didn’t feel the same way”, he said, after taking a hit to the hand in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but both the 23-year-old winger and sources within the Bruins organization insisted that Pastrnak was healthy during the postseason.

Injures were not the issue for the young forward by the time the Stanley Cup Final rolled around, and Pastrnak finished with just two goals, four points and a team-worst minus-7 in the seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues. Pastrnak wasn’t exactly terrible in the postseason with nine goals, 19 points and an even plus/minus rating in 24 games during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he also wasn’t anywhere close to his best self from the regular season.

Instead Pastrnak was passing up clean looks at the net, fanning on one-timer opportunities that usually ended up in the back of the net and sometimes getting discouraged by the physical play going on around him. It wasn’t more evident than early in Game 4 of the Cup Final when he basically gave up on a puck battle in the first period while bracing for a hit that was coming his way.

Pastrnak admitted during this week’s breakup day at Warrior Ice Arena that the mental grind of the playoffs, and the criticism heaped on him, took a toll on the talented young winger.

“It was definitely tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were always picking each other up. It was obviously challenging for me, but I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite [for them],” said Pastrnak. “It was the mental stuff, you know? In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff and blah-blah with the media, it’s tough. You’re always going to see it. And that’s fine, you know?

“I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. So it was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience. I gained a lot this postseason. The mental stuff is what I learned the most. [I learned] that it doesn’t [expletive] matter if you play a bad friggen’ game. It’s the playoffs. Or if you have a bad shift. It’s the playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you. It’s the tough part of hockey sometimes when you get back stuck on something instead of looking forward, and focusing on the next shift. Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

It’s key that Pastrnak had diagnosed the problem and is already willing to use the inconsistent playoff performance for him as a learning experience.

The biggest lesson the talented young right winger needs to take is that Pasta needs to toughen up mentally and physically. He needs to be willing to pay the physical price to make plays in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and that means sticking his nose into puck battles rather than bracing for a puck before he’s won the Cup. It also means being willing to battle to get to the scoring areas rather than loitering on the perimeter when the puck is on the offensive zone.

Just as importantly it means staying in the game mentally and not allowing a slump to consume him at the most important time of the season. If teams know they can discourage Boston’s young star mentally and physically, Pastrnak is going to continue to get hammered each and every postseason he plays in Black and Gold.

It’s going to be of paramount importance that Pastrnak toughens up in both areas and returns to the form he had two years ago in the postseason. Pastrnak was dominant and game-breaking with six goals and 20 points in 12 games, and to this point in his career he still boasts strong numbers (17 goals and 43 points in 42 playoff games) in his Stanley Cup playoff career despite two out of three postseasons being less than stellar for him.  

Clearly the potential is there for him to be a giant weapon for the Bruins in the postseason, and the B’s will need him to be that if they’re going to continue pushing for Stanley Cups in the near future. But it’s going to take a mentally and physically tougher Pastrnak to withstand the pressures of being “the guy” for the Bruins no matter what gets thrown at him.

That should be his mission for this offseason after a long, challenging season, and it sounds like he’s already begun working on that summer improvement plan.

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'Celebratory' Brett Hull the highlight of St. Louis Blues championship parade

stlouis-blues-celebrate-stanley-cup-2019.jpg
AP Images

'Celebratory' Brett Hull the highlight of St. Louis Blues championship parade

It's a beautiful day in Boston. Would be great for a.....

OK, we won't say it. 

Ouch.

And for you masochistic Bruins fans, here's a peek at the Blues' Stanley Cup victory parade.

The true highlight though was a let's say, buzzed Brett Hull, the Hall of Famer and ex-Blues great, addressing the more than half a million revelers in downtown St. Louis.

"We went, Blues!"

Twelve parades in 18 years and no Papelbon jig, Gronk beer spike or Paul Pierce coughing up a victory cigar can really match that. 

 

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