Bruins

Bruins to retire Rick Middleton's No. 16

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Bruins to retire Rick Middleton's No. 16

The Bruins announced Tuesday that they will retire Rick Middleton's number prior to the team's game against the Islanders on Thursday, Nov. 29. 

The right wing spent 12 seasons with the Bruins, scoring 402 goals with 496 assists for 898 points. He enjoyed five straight seasons with at least 40 goals from 1979 through the 1983-84 season. 
  
Middleton's No. 16 will become the 11th number sent to the rafters by the B's, joining Lionel Hitchman, Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly and Cam Neely. The last number retired by the team was Neely's No. 8, which was retired in 2004. 

"It was a great honor to call Rick today and let him know that he will join the group of retired numbers in the TD Garden rafters," Neely said in a statement released by the team. "As a player and a person Rick embodies what it means to be a Bruin, and we are excited to celebrate his career with his family, friends and our fans on November 29th."

Bruins' prolific top line isn't going anywhere for a while

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Bruins' prolific top line isn't going anywhere for a while

BOSTON – The Bruins offense has churned out 22 goals in their last four games, and the top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have accounted for 13 of their 22 tallies thus far this season.

That’s in line with the yeoman’s work that the Perfection Line did last season while pacing the offense for the Black and Gold with all three forwards topping 30 goals on the season, and it looks like an ascending Pastrnak could make them even more prolific this season. Still, it makes the Bruins offense a little top heavy as it most definitely was once Boston got to the playoffs against better teams like Toronto and Tampa Bay, and that begs the question as to whether it might be better to spread the offense around a little bit.

The thought of dropping Pastrnak to the second line with David Krejci has been there since the start of training camp, but the preseason injury to Bergeron scrapped any plans of taking a look at alternatives to a loaded top line. Now after watching Pastrnak jump out to seven goals in the first five games and Bergeron averaging a couple of points per game, Cassidy said he’s probably a safe distance away from breaking the trio up anytime soon.

“Right now, like I said, we’re going to leave it alone, so I guess farther away [from a change]. We’re trying to – we know what we’ve got in our fourth line every night, our first line – we’re just trying to get that second line, who fits best with Krech [David Krejci] and maybe Jake [DeBrusk] on the right,” said Cassidy. “Maybe our answer is right there, just switching wingers and seeing who grows into the left-wing spot. I think I’ve said all along I always felt Ryan [Donato] and Danton [Heinen], their best position is left wing.

“Can they play the right? So, now let’s try Jake over there. [Joakim] Nordstrom is just another one, kind of evolved into where he’s done a good job there, so it’s probably a little bit farther away right now. I believe there will be a time where we look at it. I just don’t see it right now.”

Watching DeBrusk and Anders Bjork finally get on the board to get goals from all four lines in the win over Detroit certainly makes the argument that the Bruins are beginning to find their diversified scoring. Now the question will be whether the second and third lines, as currently constituted, can generate that offense against the stronger teams around the league, and not just whip up on weak sisters like Buffalo, Ottawa, Edmonton and Detroit.

The only way to find that out is to play the games and adjust accordingly, but for right now the Perfection Line isn’t going anywhere except upward and onward in the scoring column. 

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Youthful Bruins adding balance to roster

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Youthful Bruins adding balance to roster

BOSTON -- The Bruins top line is off to a scorching hot start even by their standards.

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron have combined for 13 of the Bruins 22 goals this season, and have carried the Bruins offense just as they did with Pastrnak’s hat track in an 8-2 win over the Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Pastrnak kicked things off with a nifty end-to-end goal in the first period where he basically cut through the entire Red Wings team before firing off a laser beam of a shot. And he didn’t stop with two more goals after that to give the 22-year-old seven goals in the last four wins for the Black and Gold. But Saturday’s win over the Wings was in some ways less about Pastrnak’s considerable star-power, and much more about supporting players like Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy all getting on the board with their first goals of the season.

“They had to [score] sooner or later, right? If it drags on then you start overthinking it, and I think Jake [DeBrusk] was getting close,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He could’ve had three or four [goals] tonight, and I think Krech [David Krejci] responded well too. He’s trying to get pucks into areas for those guys. I think [Joakim] Nordstrom right now is a nice fit there. He’s got speed on both sides.

“But the young guys, Bjorkie [Anders Bjork], I’m happy to see him shoot it the other night, turned one down, so there’s some growth there, right? You don’t get that many good chances. Ryan Donato of the wing was ripping it, so guys had a little more of a selfish attitude and it never hurts to shoot the puck because it just creates havoc even if it doesn’t go in.”

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With the Bruins opting to go almost exclusively young on the wings on their second and third lines with DeBrusk, Bjork, Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen, it becomes imperative that all of those young guys light the lamp early and often. If not the Bruins are going to have the same issues with a top heavy offense that they had last season, and will continue to have issues producing offense against the league’s stronger teams.

That wasn’t the case against the Red Wings, however, as DeBrusk popped in a pair of goals after going scoreless in the first four games of the season. The first goal was a bang-bang play where DeBrusk got behind the Red Wings defense after David Krejci stole a puck in the neutral zone, and then slipped a puck through Jonathan Bernier’s five-hole that pin-balled through his equipment before it trickled over the goal line.

The second score was a good, old-fashioned redirection as DeBrusk took a pass from Brandon Carlo while cutting to the net, and simply deflected the puck past Bernier before giving it his all with the post-goal celebration. DeBrusk was a key guy that stepped up and scored goals in the first round vs. the Maple Leafs during last spring’s series victory, and the Bruins are certainly relying on him to step up and support that top line offensively again this season.

Needless to say DeBrusk was happy he finally got rewarded for doing the right things, and is seeing some results after sliding over to the right wing alongside Krejci.

“It was only five games, and I guess that’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but it was…it was getting on me. I think I just had some chances where I’d like to do those over again. It was nice to get a nice break,” said DeBrusk. “It was a nice pass by Krejci, got a bounce and it was the first bounce I got and I didn’t even know if it went in or not, and kind of how things were going to be honest with you.

“But it was nice to see that one go in. And then, the second one Brandon [Carlo] made a great play. And it was obviously nice to see that one go in as well. It was nice to just kind of stay calm and now I can move forward and keep building my game.”

For Bjork, the goal he scored off the right wing rush was even sweeter as he flew under the radar for an NHL roster spot through most of the summer and training camp. He was coming off shoulder surgery after a so-so rookie NHL season, and watched others like DeBrusk, Heinen and Donato take off when they were given their chances in Boston. But he kept playing hard in camp when given the opportunity, and then showed more competitiveness and more heaviness on the puck this season than he did as a rookie last year.

So he was rewarded with the goal on Saturday afternoon, and perhaps showed that there will be more to come for the Bruins this season.

“It feels good, yeah. It’s been a while, so I think it’s always nice to produce offensively. I think it was good for our line,” said Bjork. “I think, you know, having a shot-first mentality opens up plays, especially like the passes open up when the ‘D’ think you’re shooting, so you see like Pastrnak does that all the time.

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“A bunch of guys on our team do, and I think, you know, I’m trying to be like that a little bit and take the puck to the net because it creates more angles to yourself. It gets your teammates open as well and when you have your shot you’ve got to take it. I think that’s something that I struggled with last year and hopefully I’m improving on.”

It took five games for some of the Bruins young guns to get firing this season, but they went off in a big way on Saturday against the Wings. Now the B’s hope they can keep it going, and get Donato and Heinen involved as well, as they look for a balanced scoring attack this season that wasn’t always there last year.