Bruins

Bruins explain what made 2018-19 team special despite Stanley Cup disappointment

Bruins explain what made 2018-19 team special despite Stanley Cup disappointment

The 2018-19 Boston Bruins ultimately fell short of their goal of winning the Stanley Cup, but that doesn't mean the playoff run as a whole wasn't exciting nor memorable.

This was one of the best Bruins teams of this generation. They were very talented, played an exciting style of hockey and provided many postseason memories fans won't soon forget.

Amid the heartbreak of Wednesday night's Game 7 defeat to the St. Louis Blues, several Bruins players tried to put into words what they'll take away from this season. Here's a roundup of player reactions to what made this Bruins team special, what they'll remember about this group or how proud they are of the team.

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara: "I think it was the personalities we had, the leadership we had. I thought we came together. Not just this year, but the last few years as a team that really bought in as one, played for each other, played together. We battled together and we shared some ups and downs. We just came up a bit short."

Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron: "Just how close we are as a team. You know, there was no quit all year and we battled, fought our way back against Toronto and Columbus also down 2-1 and kept going and kept pushing. You know, right now, whatever we say doesn’t matter because it is what it is. I’m proud of the guys, I’m proud of everyone – the way that we’ve competed, but then you don’t get the result and it’s hard to be standing here and answering questions."

Bruins forward Brad Marchand: "Love these guys. We had a hell of a year, and we came very close. I love every guy on this team. I’m very proud of everyone that worked their ass off all year to get to this point, and you know, we’re a hell of a group. We came together. We’re like a family, so it hurts, but yeah, love this group."

Bruins forward David Krejci: "I think that this group was so close, so tight. That was one of the best things I was part of. So, like I said, this one is going to hurt for a long time. But over 2013, this one hurts even more. It’ll be tough, but we’ll see what the future brings. But, that will be really hard, really tough summer, and like I said, losses like that it’s hard to get over. You just kind of have to learn how to live with it."

Bruins forward Charlie Coyle: "One win away from the Stanley Cup, seeing the way the guys play together and interact together and love each other, you really feel that, it’s easy to just come and be a part of that. It’s what it’s about, just the team aspect, it’s how we were all year. I felt very fortunate to come in and be with this group, go through a lot of ups and downs, ending on a down here but I think everyone’s proud of each other."

Bruins lost the Stanley Cup because of this failure>>>

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Ondrej Kase set to make his Bruins debut against Dallas

Ondrej Kase set to make his Bruins debut against Dallas

A couple days after watching Nick Ritchie make his Bruins debut on the TD Garden ice, new B’s teammate Ondrej Kase is set to make his debut for the Black and Gold on Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.

Kase has been out since Feb. 7 with what the Ducks called the “flu” and the Bruins have termed an upper body injury, but it was suspected to be a concussion suffered in a game against the Maple Leafs.

Kase said he “can’t wait for the game” after skating on a second line at morning skate with Ritchie on the left wing and David Krejci as the playmaking center during line rushes. It certainly should be a good match between a passer in Krejci and a shooter in Kase, but that will play out on the ice as it always does when Bruce Cassidy starts tinkering with his forward lines.

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Ritchie and Kase played together quite a bit in Anaheim with Adam Henrique as center between the two wingers, and that should augment the chemistry between those two and Krejci in their maiden B’s voyage.

"What I’ve heard is they played together with Henrique in Anaheim and had some success. Sometimes having some familiarity right out of the gate’s not a bad thing, especially when we’re trying new lines,” said Cassidy. “Krejci is the one that will have the biggest adjustment because he’s got two new wingers. [Ritchie] is a big body on one side and Krejci is accustomed to that over the years. [Ritchie] is a guy that goes to the net and makes plays off the wall, and that’s one thing that he did well the other night.

"We’re not expecting instant chemistry. If we get it, then fantastic, and if we don’t then we’ll keep working on it.”

Jake DeBrusk will drop to the third line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork in an intriguing combination, and it looks like Joakim Nordstrom, Anton Blidh, Connor Clifton and John Moore will continue to sit out against the Stars. Jaroslav Halak gets the start for the Bruins after he was honored prior to Tuesday night’s game for his milestone 500th start at the NHL.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Stars based on morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie David Krejci Ondrej Kase
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Anders Bjork
Sean Kuraly Par Lindholm Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Jeremy Lauzon

STARTING GOALIE

Jaroslav Halak

NHL needs to leave emergency goalie system exactly as it is

david_ayres_hurricanes.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photo

NHL needs to leave emergency goalie system exactly as it is

You’ve got to hand it to the NHL. They are masterminds when it comes to fixing things that are 100 percent, absolutely not broken.

After making headlines across the world last week with the feel-good story of 42-year-old AHL Zamboni driver and amateur goaltender David Ayres, who stepped in to play emergency goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto, the NHL has an eye toward tweaking the EBUG (Emergency Backup Goaltender) rules that allowed it all to happen in the first place.

Ayres exited to an ovation from his fellow Torontoians after stopping eight of 10 shots in Saturday’s Carolina win while earning the “W’ over the Maple Leafs after both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek left the game due to injury.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney was asked about it earlier this week and admitted the whole thing was “great theater” while stopping short of saying the emergency goalie system needed to change.

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“It’s a great story for the person. It’s got a 'Rudy' effect to it. [It] made for great theatre for everybody. I think I’ll hold my comments other than that. We’ve got upcoming meetings and I’m sure it’ll be on the docket as to whether or not we can do something to tweak or improve it,” said Sweeney. “I think that remains to be seen. It’s been an area where we’ve talked about addressing, but I’ll refrain from any further comment other than it was great theatre.”

Ayres is normally the Zamboni driver for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, but he’s also served as a practice goalie for Toronto when the Maple Leafs have needed help occasionally throughout the season.

This is something fairly commonplace within most of the 31 NHL organizations where there’s a need for extra goaltenders to face shots at practice if they want to give their top two guys occasional rest during the season, or to perhaps give rehabbing players somebody to shoot at if the rest of the NHL team is on the road.

Mass. State Trooper and former Salem State College goalie Keith Segee is one of several goaltenders serving the EBUG role for the Boston Bruins during games at TD Garden. Former Northeastern University goaltender Adam Geragosian likewise served as an EBUG for the Black and Gold in the first few seasons after the system was implemented.

The way the EBUG system works is that the emergency goalie at each of the 31 NHL rinks could potentially play for either the home or visiting team if they run into a situation where both goalies get injured during the game.

It happened a couple of seasons ago with the Chicago Blackhawks when they needed accountant Scott Foster to step in and protect a lead for them in a game that the Blackhawks won despite the use of the emergency goalie.

In both instances, Ayres and Foster quickly became folk heroes after making their unexpected NHL debuts and inspired thousands of goalies across the world that maybe someday their number could get called in an EBUG situation. Ayres appeared on the "Today Show" and the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" during a flurry of media appearances earlier this week and captured national attention like few things in the NHL do during the regular season.

His story as a friendly Canadian rink worker and kidney transplant survivor is exactly the kind of everyman success story that everybody loves and can relate to.

The whole EBUG thing is also exactly the kind of viral marketing event and unique wrinkle that separates the NHL from other sports if the league plays it exactly right. Old school hockey people may scoff at it all and say that dropping a goalie like Ayres into a game with possible playoff implications tarnishes the purity of the game.

This humble hockey writer says that those crusty hockey types need to lighten up and realize that the EBUG scenario is rare, but it’s also something that gives the NHL its own special connection to the fans.

The truth is that the EBUG goalies are uniquely equipped to handle the emergency duties given they have some prior connection with an NHL team, and many of them face NHL caliber shots and situations in practice with their teams. This is why any theoretical doomsday scenarios of amateur goalies getting injured or getting lit up for 10 goals simply don’t make sense.

If these goalies are good enough to participate in an NHL practice setting, then they are good enough to play in an NHL game in a pinch. It’s not like they are randomly pulling somebody out of the stands and strapping goalie equipment on them while asking them to stop 108.8-mph Zdeno Chara slapshots.

The two EBUG goalies who have actually seen action are undefeated, did their jobs and showed that this isn’t a situation where anybody — aside from the Maple Leafs players — should worry about getting embarrassed on the ice. It’s a system that’s literally working as exactly as designed and it’s absurd that the NHL would tinker with it at all.

Fast-forward to today and the NHL is expected to discuss the EBUG rules at the GM Meetings, with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saying that it comes up whenever the situation for an emergency goalie arises.

“When it happens, it obviously raises everybody’s attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” said Daly. “We want to make sure people aren’t putting themselves in danger by playing in a National Hockey League game.”

Let’s be honest here.

There was no clarion call to change the emergency goalie rules a couple of seasons ago when Foster did the job for Chicago. This is all coming up because the Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed by their 42-year-old Zamboni driver beating them with the visiting Hurricanes last weekend, and now there’s a call to change things so something like that doesn’t happen again in the center of the NHL universe in Toronto.

That’s as much reason as anything to not change the current EBUG system when it all worked as well as it did last weekend.

Perhaps logic and common sense will prevail and the NHL will opt to leave things as they are with the emergency goaltenders, but the sneaking suspicion is that the league wants to tinker with something unbroken.

And that’s too bad, because the National Hockey League has stumbled onto something brilliant here, and the league could use a David Ayres-type story or two every season.