Bruins

Bruins' Perfection Line lives up to its name in clinching Cup berth

Bruins' Perfection Line lives up to its name in clinching Cup berth

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Bruins' Perfection Line wasn’t quite living up to its name in the conference final entering the fourth and final game in the best-of-seven series. Instead it was more about the team's roster depth and its secondary scoring coming to the forefront and doing the job as Boston built up a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

But Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were on a mission in Thursday night’s Game 4 as their line accounted for all four goals scored and eight points overall in a 4-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena to finish off the clean sweep.

“I think the last few games we knew that we could be a little bit better than what we’ve been,” admitted Brad Marchand. “With the situation we were in — up 3-0 — everybody wanted to be at their best, and I think everybody brought their best tonight. Sometimes it bounces your way. You look at [Bergeron’s] history and the way he steps up in big games. Pasta was great tonight.

“The reason we’ve been successful is because we’ve had each line and every D-pairing step up and play big in big situations. When you’re able to rely on everyone it makes it easier to just focus on doing your own job, and do what you’re expected to do. You all just gel together in those situations.”

Bergeron scored the second and third goals of the game on the power play, and finished with a dominant performance in yet another elimination game with the two goals, three points, 11 shot attempts, four takeaways and three blocked shots while filling out the score sheet.

It was clear that it was going to be a perfect kind of night from the very first period when it took great saves from Curtis McElhinney to keep Marchand and Pastrnak off the board. Eventually that dam busted open, however, as the B’s top players provided pressure and then got awarded a couple of power plays in the second period that they turned into damage-makers.

The Perfection Line finished with the four goals, 11 shots on net and a whopping 26 shot attempts in a dominant puck possession performance that eventually turned into enough finished plays to dust off the Hurricanes. The eight points that the trio combined for actually outnumbered the points (six) that Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak put up in the first three games of the series vs. the Hurricanes, so it was the perfect time for the big guns to step up.

“It hasn’t been one line [in the playoffs], but [in Game 4] it was. The big line was there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I’m proud of the guys especially with the way they played today. They’ve earned the right to be there in the Stanley Cup Final. We’ve beaten three good teams. There’s some unfinished business. We want to enjoy it, but we understand that there are four more steps to take.”

Certainly it will be four steps that will be a little more easily attained if the Perfection Line lives up to its name in the Cup Final as it did while closing out the Hurricanes in dominant fashion during Game 4. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NHL sets 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5, $1.5 million lower than expected

NHL sets 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5, $1.5 million lower than expected

The NHL announced it's salary cap for the 2019-20 season Saturday at $81.5 million, which is $1.5 million lower than initial projections.

The Bruins are expected to have about $13 million in cap space, not counting free agents Danton Heinen, Marcus Johansson, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Noel Acciari and Brandon Kampfer. 

The Bruins will likely bring back McAvoy, Carlo and Heinen, but the lower cap figure may have an impact on the team's willingness to re-sign Johansson. One avenue the Bruins could take is offloading David Backes contract onto a team with the space to absorb it, but apparently, his deal is "impossible to move."

We'll see what this lower cap result ultimately does to the Bruins plans moving forward, but the last thing teams usually want around free agency is less money to spend. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

In the wake of losing the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins are facing a tight salary cap situation that could prevent them from bringing back all of their talented players.

On paper, an easy move to free up some space would involve dumping David Backes. The 35-year-old was inactive for a good chunk of the team's postseason run and only had 20 total points last season. But Backes, set to make $6 million this season, has buyout protections in his contract and is due another $6 million in the 2020-21 season. And as one assistant GM pointed out, that makes the contract unmovable.

“Impossible to move,” said one assistant GM of Backes' contract to The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa. “It would be a high-end pick plus a prospect. The only way is a bad contract for a bad contract.”

The Bruins certainly wouldn't like to pay that type of price to offload Backes. But that may mean some sacrifices elsewhere on the roster.

Right now, the Bruins have a few players on their roster set to hit restricted free agency. Young building blocks Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all due raises and potential long-term contracts moving forward. Additionally, key bottom-six players Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are going to be unrestricted free agents, and one would think that the Bruins would have an interest in bringing that duo back -- and Johansson in particular.

However, the Bruins don't have a lot of projected cap space. CapFriendly.com projects the Bruins to have just under $13 million in space. That may be enough to bring back the restricted players, but it may keep Johansson from rejoining the team.

While clearing Backes' contract could open the space needed to bring back Johansson, it simply appears to be too high of a price to pay to get rid of him. They have a lot of intriguing young talent in their system, so they may turn to them instead if they can't afford to keep some of the free agents on their roster.

Also, it's notable that throughout the offseason, Don Sweeney has praised Backes' veteran leadership and seems to think that he can still contribute. Backes may play on the fourth line and while $6 million would still be a pretty penny for a fourth-line player, at least the Bruins could use him and wouldn't have to sacrifice long-term assets to get rid of him.

We'll soon see if anything changes for the Bruins, but for the time being, it seems likely that Backes will be back for another season.

HAGGERTY: The pros and cons of bringing back Backes>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.