Bruins

Bruins roster projection 3.0: Looking at the B's season-opening roster

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Bruins roster projection 3.0: Looking at the B's season-opening roster

BOSTON — With the Bruins now done with their exhibition season, there isn’t anything left for anybody to do to impress the B’s coaching staff.

A bubble forward like David Backes has probably made the roster based on his strong performance that came to a crescendo with his final preseason appearance in the win over the Devils earlier this week. It’s clear that he put in the work during the summer, and that both he and power forward Brett Ritchie will probably be jostling for the same spot among the top-12 forwards on a nightly basis.

One forward who enjoyed a strong camp, but won’t be cracking the NHL roster to start the season in all likelihood?

It’s Anders Bjork, who did everything he probably needed to do in order to get things back on track after each of his last two seasons were wiped out by shoulder surgeries. Bjork was fast, he was aggressive, he looked stronger on the puck and more willing to engage in the danger areas, and he was able to create some offense as well.

Despite all of this, the 23-year-old Bjork is expected to start the season in Providence. On its face it would appear that Bjork didn’t make the cut, but it’s much more about the B’s being interested in seeing him build back up to a place where he’s really going to help the team in Boston. Consider the boost the Bruins could get from popping Bjork into their lineup later this season if he can regain the offensive mojo that he lost on the surgeon’s table in each of the last two seasons.

That’s what the Bruins are hoping for.

“He was drafted as a scoring winger. He hasn’t been able to do that consistently at the professional level, so we have to determine [whether] he is going to be able to do it here? Or is he better served in Providence, finding that part of his game? What’s going to be better for us in the long run? Do we need him here in the short term? That’s what we balance,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We proved last year we had a good lineup [and] added a center and a winger.

“We’ll have to make that determination, but my guess is [the AHL] is where he will probably end up starting, to work on that part of his game. He had a good training camp, good preseason and he’s healthy, bigger, stronger. So that’ll be just in my preliminary evaluation there, but we’ll sit down again and go over it.”

Otherwise, the only wrinkle for the Bruins lineup is moving things around on the fourth line because Joakim Nordstrom (foot) isn’t going to be ready to start the year on Thursday night in Dallas. It could be as easy as pushing Sean Kuraly over to left wing and essentially having two centers on the energy line with both Kuraly and Par Lindholm able to handle duties there to start off the year.

Otherwise, this should be the group that hits the ice on Oct. 3 provided that David Krejci (lower body) is able to play as the B’s currently think he’ll be able to after tweaking something in preseason action earlier this week:  

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen Charlie Coyle David Backes
Sean Kuraly Par Lindholm Chris Wagner

Scratches: Brett Ritchie

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

Scratch: Steven Kampfer

GOALTENDERS

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Injured: John Moore, Kevan Miller, Joakim Nordstrom

How humbling experience sparked change for Backes>>>>>

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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 vs. Bruins
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning
Saturday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals

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: Penguins vs. Canadiens
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

(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 vs. Panthers*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

(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: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 5, Stars 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues

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: Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*

(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: Predators vs. Coyotes
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*

(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 vs. Wild
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*

(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 vs. Jets*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*
*If necessary

NHL Playoffs: Bruins hoping a showdown with rival Lightning brings their best

NHL Playoffs: Bruins hoping a showdown with rival Lightning brings their best

The Bruins have been stuck in a quagmire of half-measure efforts and rusty execution in their first two games played inside the Toronto bubble over the last week.

One was an exhibition loss vs. Columbus with zero consequence behind it, and the other was a half-hearted defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers last weekend that really didn’t feel Boston put its best foot forward.

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The hope headed into Wednesday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning is that a showdown with one of their fiercest division rivals will be exactly the kind of magic elixir needed to snap the Bruins out of their somnambulant state.

“I hope it does,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Tampa will bring out the best in the Black and Gold. “I went to the game [on Monday] and it was very physical and very spirited against Washington. They are developing a rivalry, and obviously with us and Tampa I’m expecting a lot of the same.

“It will be physical and competitive. We’re trying to build our game and get better every time out. We’re going to need to if we want to beat Tampa. I’m looking forward to it and I think the guys are too. It’s a tough mental [challenge] right now because we don’t know who our opponent is going to be next week. You still want to pick up wins, but you’re trying to balance that with the urgency of preparing for your first playoff opponent.”

The concern is definitely there with the Bruins given that Boston’s best players have been below average in the first couple of games, and that Tampa has historically been a tough matchup for them over the last few years.

Tuukka Rask has been rather ordinary against the high-powered Lightning in recent seasons — he went 1-2-1 with a 2.73 goals against average and a .902 save percentage in four games this season is 2-9-1 with a 3.09 GAA and a .887 save percentage in his last 12 games against Tampa Bay, including the 2018 second-round playoff series that the Lightning won in five games — and the Bolts are a deeper, more high-impact roster across the board while the B’s are wheeling out a second line of Nick Ritchie, David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman for Wednesday afternoon’s puck drop.

Clearly it isn’t Boston’s best lineup so much as it’s Cassidy attempting to get everybody on his roster a little bit of game action ahead of the conventional four rounds of Stanley Cup Playoffs starting next week. It won’t be Tampa’s best lineup either with Steve Stamkos out while still rehabbing from abdominal surgery, but they still feature high-octane offense with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, stalwart defense led by Victor Hedman and an all-word goaltender in Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The top competition won’t stop the B’s bench boss from having a long list of expectations for what he’s looking for against Tampa, and what’s been missing in those first two losses to Columbus and Philadelphia where the Bruins were outscored by an 8-2 margin.

“Sixty minutes of Bruins hockey. Or [65 minutes] if need be today is what we’re targeting. Hopefully that results in a win. You can play really well in short spurts and not win. Eventually, you keep playing well with a team like ours you will win. We’re looking for that 60-minute effort. We had 20 minutes the other night, a good start, playing our game. We got away from it in the second period,” said Cassidy. “Our puck management has to improve from the other night… no shooting ourselves in the foot. Taking the plays that are there.

“Offensively, we need to generate more. Some of that will be a shot mentality. Some of that is shaking the rust off. Some of that is having a little more purpose in our game [and be] willing to attack the net. Execute better all over the ice I think is the big thing we’re looking for. This will be our third game and by then you hope the players have now started to regain some of their individual skill level. Let’s see the execution improve and let’s see our puck management improve. I think the passion will be there. Tampa and us always have good, solid games. That alone will make us better.”

That’s the hope anyway. We’ll see how it plays out on Wednesday night where another middling performance from the B’s could really begin to get people worried around Boston.