Bruins

Cassidy on facing the similar Blues: 'I think they're a bit of our twin'

Cassidy on facing the similar Blues: 'I think they're a bit of our twin'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Bruce Cassidy said when he looks in the hockey mirror, he sees the B’s Stanley Cup Final opponent looking back at him.

The Bruins head coach called the St. Louis Blues, who closed out the San Jose Sharks in six games on Tuesday night, their “twin” and thinks there are plenty of similarities between the two hockey clubs now preparing for Game 1 on Monday night at TD Garden. While the season trajectories were certainly a little different with the Blues in last place in their division as late as January during the regular season, the roster makeup and the style of play certainly do seem similar with physicality and skill present in equal parts, along with strong goaltending.  

“I think they’re very similar to us in the way that they play. They’re a fore-checking team that plays North/South and they use all four lines. Their fourth line in particular gets a lot of assignments like ours. Goaltenders are both playing excellent,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Their D is bigger than ours, but both can move the puck. I expect the games will be probably lower-scoring, more physical. I think they’re a bit of our ‘twin’ so to speak with the way they balance their minutes. They might have a guy that plays a few more — Pietrangelo — on average than us in terms of time on ice, but I think I see a lot of similarities.”

The Blues have their top-end offensive talent with guys like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, they’ve got their two-way center in Ryan O’Reilly and they’ve got some big-name defensemen with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko leading the way. So there are certainly plenty of similarities between the two clubs, who have historically played heavy, low-scoring games against each other in their non-conference meetings over the years.

Clearly the Bruins were a little more accomplished during the regular season with 107 points to the 99 that St. Louis accumulated. And the Blues were middle of the road offensively with 2.98 goals per game during the season, but top-10 in the other major categories, showing very few glaring weaknesses in their lineup once rookie Jordan Binnington took over between the pipes midway through the year.

Cassidy also mentioned the invented word “Columbus-ish” when describing the size, physicality and attitude that St. Louis brings to the table.

So what does it all mean?

One can expect an entertaining, hard-nosed Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues that will live up to the historical significance from the last time these two franchises met in the Final when Bobby Orr went flying through the air. 

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Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

With the Bruins appearing a little out of focus in the last few games, they will get one of their important leaders back for Monday night’s road game with Patrice Bergeron returning against the Ottawa Senators.

Bergeron has missed the previous seven games while working back from a lower body injury that’s forced him to miss nine of the Bruins' last 11 games, and over the last week, he slowly ramped up to his return to his rightful place this morning centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Bergeron has eight goals and 24 points in 21 games this season while centering two of the top scorers in the league, and is obviously still one of the top two-way centers in the NHL at 34 years old. But amazingly the Bruins went an impressive 6-1-2 in the nine games that Bergeron has missed with injuries as of late, and they pulled off a number of third-period comebacks without their No. 1 center.

That being said, the Bruins have forced Bruce Cassidy to mix and match the lines as of late as Pastrnak’s offensive binge has slowed down and the offense has scored just 13 goals in the last six games while missing a key part of their top line and top power play unit.

Bergeron should help all of these things upon his return while allowing David Krejci and Charlie Coyle to slot into their normal spots in the lineup. But it will be interesting to watch how fully Bergeron has healed up his lower body injury, and whether or not it’s something that might continue to dog him like the chronic groin issues he’s battled over the last few years.

With Bergeron set to make his return, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Ottawa Senators based on Monday’s morning skate:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
John Moore Matt Grzelcyk

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

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