Bruins

Could two goals in the Bruins scrimmage spark David Pastrnak?

Could two goals in the Bruins scrimmage spark David Pastrnak?

BOSTON – Certainly an intra-squad scrimmage isn’t going to amount to much in the grand scheme of things once the Stanley Cup Final gets going at the start of next week.

But maybe, just maybe, Bruins right winger David Pastrnak can start catching fire offensively in the best-of-seven game series against the St. Louis Blues after scoring a couple of goals in Thursday night’s glorified practice. Pastrnak and David Backes both scored two goals apiece in the 5-3 final score in the intra-squad, and Pasta does have a solid seven goals and 15 points along with a plus-7 in 17 games during the playoffs.

“It was good. I’m going to give it to Jaro [Halak] a little bit,” said the Czech-born Pastrnak, who scored both of his goals against B’s backup Jaroslav Halak. “He’s Slovakian, so I love to score on him. I’ve never practiced so many days without a game before, so [the scrimmage] is going to be useful.”  

Certainly Pastrnak was being tongue-in-cheek about scoring on his own goalie, but the truth is that the 22-year-old hasn’t really enjoyed a truly dominant stretch in this postseason to this point aside from notching two-goal games against both Toronto and Columbus in the first couple of rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Certainly part of that is the tight-checking nature of the playoffs and the best teams’ top lines cancelling each other out in most games. But there’s also a sense that Pastrnak hasn’t been able to unleash his big shot on the power play with much regularity, and a legit curiosity factor as to whether or not he’s playing through some kind of injury.

As he said during the Columbus series when things were a little slow offensively, Pastrnak is doing the best he can and has certainly seen an uptick in his involvement since joining back up with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the Perfection Line.

“I think we’ve done just fine. We’re just playing as a team and every single night it’s somebody else’s turn to shine. That’s what the good teams do,” said Pastrnak. “It’s unbelievable how good every line has been in different games, and that’s what so much for us to enjoy in the room.

“I’m doing my best. Every game is different. Obviously there have been games where I’ve been better and there have been games where I’ve been worse, but this is not what I’m focusing on. I’m focusing on trying to help the team rather than whether I’m scoring or not.”

Still, Pastrnak only had six shots on net in the entire four-game conference final series against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he should be more of a consistent threat than that when he’s healthy and going well. So perhaps that scoring burst in the scrimmage can light the candle that ignites the flame on Pasta’s offense at a crucial time when a hot goal-scorer could carry his team to the Stanley Cup. 

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Zdeno Chara 'grateful for the opportunity' to play, not focused on NHL playoff format fairness

Zdeno Chara 'grateful for the opportunity' to play, not focused on NHL playoff format fairness

In the aftermath of this week’s NHL announcement about the 24-team playoff format, there has been plenty of talk about fairness, asterisks and whether this plan will even come to fruition this summer as NHL players begin working to get back into playing shape.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara could have complained about the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins being forced into protecting their top seed during a round-robin tournament despite pretty much winning it fair and square during the regular season with a month left.

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Chara could have openly wondered about the safeness of an NHL return or talked extensively about whether the Cup champs will be considered regular champions despite so many oddities with this year’s proposed postseason.

Instead, the wise 43-year-old Chara simply showed gratitude that the NHL players might be able to get back to work, and perhaps in doing so can restore some sense of quasi-normalcy to sports fans eager to see games resume.

“The Players' Association with the player reps worked extremely hard to get to this point and come up with something that will be hopefully entertaining and exciting. I think the fans will enjoy it for sure. It’s never a perfect scenario. It’s not going to be set in stone like it would be after an 82-game regular season,” said Chara while speaking with B’s reporters on Zoom call on Thursday morning.

“It’s not going to be perfect. Anytime you’re going to have an unexpected kind of stoppage with teams at different peaks in their season, you had to come up with some sort of solution. What we see is probably the best [solution]. It’s one of those things where you can’t blame anyone or feel that it’s unfair.

For us, we have to be grateful for the opportunity we’re getting. When you look at the real-life perspective at what other people’s families and businesses are going through, we’re getting the chance to basically start back up where we ended the season. A lot of people aren’t getting that same chance. A lot of people lost financial support and businesses went down, and they will never get the same opportunities. We have to be grateful for the opportunity and take it as a huge motivation [and] excitement. [We need] to be grateful and embrace it.

As with most players focused on winning, Chara knows the Bruins will need to overcome all obstacles if they hope to lift the Stanley Cup, and a newfangled playoff format that was a little unfair to them is nothing compared to what’s happening in the world.

Chara is going to be a slam dunk Hall of Fame defenseman when he eventually retires from the Bruins even if that’s probably at least a couple of seasons from now.

But the 6-foot-9 D-man also showed in his answer why he’s a Hall of Fame person with the way he’s still got everything in proper perspective even as fans get a little excited about progress being made toward a return for the NHL season.

NHL announces Bruins have won these three end-of-season awards

NHL announces Bruins have won these three end-of-season awards

The NHL announced on Tuesday the 2019-20 regular season was finished, and as a result, it became time to announce the winners of some end-of-the-year awards.

Some of the awards, including the Hart Trophy for the league's most valuable player, still need to be voted on. Most of them are voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The awards based on stats, however, already have been determined.

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Three of the awards already determined will go to the Boston Bruins. The league officially announced all such awards with a press release Thursday.

Here's a quick recap of the awards won by the Bruins.

Presidents' Trophy
The team that finishes the regular season with the best record wins this award. This is the third time Boston has won the Presidents' Trophy since it was introduced ahead of the 1985-86 season. The B's also have won it in 1990 and 2014. The team that's won this trophy usually fails to win the Stanley Cup. In fact, only nine of the previous 33 Presidents' Trophy winners went on to win the Stanley Cup that same year. However, the last time it  happened was in 2013 when the Chicago Blackhawks won both in a shortened season, so maybe there's hope for the Bruins in 2020!

William M. Jennings Trophy
The Bruins had the best goalie duo in the league with starter Tuukka Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak. Boston finished the season allowing the fewest goals allowed, which means the team's goaltenders have won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Rask led the league with a 2.12 goals against average and 85 goals allowed in 41 appearances, and Halak ranked sixth with a 2.39 GAA and 73 goals allowed in 31 games played. This is the third time (1989-90 and 2008-09 previously) the Bruins have won this award since it was introduced in 1981-82. Rask has won the award for the first time, while Halak now has claimed it twice. Halak shared it with Brian Elliott when they played for the St. Louis Blues durng the 2011-12 campaign.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
The league's leading goal scorer(s) win the award named after Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice Richard. Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin both scored 48 goals and will share the trophy. Pastrnak is the first B's player to lead the league in goals since Phil Esposito, who did it in six straight seasons from 1969-70 through 1974-75. Pastrnak fell just shy of becoming Boston's first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94, but he should have plenty more chances to hit that milestone in the near future. 

Other awards?
It's quite possible the Bruins could take home other end-of-the-season awards. Pastrnak has a case to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy, but it's hard to envision him winning the award over Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon or Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron should be a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which he's already won four times. Rask also is the favorite to win the second Vezina Trophy of his career.

Of course, the real prize for the Bruins is the Stanley Cup. They came so close to winning it last year, and after another dominant regular season, the Bruins are among the favorites to hoist the best trophy in sports later in 2020.