Red-hot Bruins have something to prove in one-sided history vs. Caps


Red-hot Bruins have something to prove in one-sided history vs. Caps

The Bruins have shown the past six weeks that there is something to be excited about this season.


If the B’s really want to show they’ve truly scaled up another rung on the Eastern Conference ladder, however, they need to do so by finally vanquishing the Washington Capitals for the first time in almost four years. The Bruins have lost 11 games in a row to the big, strong, skilled and deep Caps the past four seasons. They’ve looked pretty overmatched in nearly all of those matchups dating to March 9, 2014 - the B’s last win over the Capitals.  

Some of that has clearly been the play of Braden Holtby, who has been dominant against the Bruins over his career at 13-2-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and three shutouts against the Black and Gold, including his first NHL win against Boston seven years ago. Some of that one-sided history has featured recent versions of the Caps bullying the Bruins all over the ice with Tom Wilson stirring up trouble nearly every time the teams meet.

Some of it is players such as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom overwhelming the B’s with their offensive skill and consistently getting the Bruins down early.

Whatever the circumstances, the Bruins enter the proceedings tonight at Capital One Arena in Washington winners of a season-high five in a row with a 14-3-1 record in their past 18 games. The B’s are healthy and near the top of their game and will put Anton Khudobin between the pipes hoping to get a stand-on-his-head performance.

“We have a lot of confidence right now, and there’s nothing that will slow us down,” said Bruins winger Tim Schaller. “Even if we lose a game here and there, we still know we have a good team, and we can beat the best teams out there. So, it’s all about playing our game, sticking to the system and trusting the system, and we’ll win games.”

The Black and Gold are hoping that finally holds true against the Washington Capitals for the first time in 12 tries. 

If the Bruins can finally change their recent dreadful history against the Caps, perhaps there will be even more believers in what the B’s are doing as they continue to climb up the Atlantic Division with some very strong, well-rounded play the past two months.  


Morning Skate: Who ya got in draft of hockey movie characters?

Morning Skate: Who ya got in draft of hockey movie characters?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading as training camp skates a little closer and summer winds down.

*Fun little exercise from Barstool Sports where the NHL has an expansion draft to pick up hockey movie characters. I was, however, a little disappointed to see that the Bruins got somebody from Mystery, Alaska (not one of my fav hockey movies) instead of Ross “The Boss” Rhea, who has Black and Gold written all over him.

*A Q&A with Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn where he talks about anything and everything ahead of an important season for the Stars organization.

*Tim Benz doesn’t want to see anybody else ever wear No. 71 or No. 68 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. I think it’s a safe bet we won’t see that.  

*Pro Hockey Talk says to expect a huge year from Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty no matter where he plays. Count me as a little skeptical on that one.

*So how good is Colton Parayko? Varying NHL talent evaluators offer variations on a “Ummm, pretty good” theme.

*For something completely different: RIP to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who I will forever remember for crushing her scene in the Blues Brothers. She was the real deal.


Countdown to Bruins training camp: Is Karlsson ready to win third-line job?

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Countdown to Bruins training camp: Is Karlsson ready to win third-line job?

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

When Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson signed out of BU after his sophomore season, the expectation might have been that he’d quickly be in the NHL based on his two-way abilities and the maturity to his game at the NCAA ranks. That hasn’t happened for the 21-year-old center prospect to this point, but it could happen soon after a solid rookie campaign at the AHL level with 15 goals and 32 points in 58 games. Consider JFK one of the Bruins prospects close to an NHL breakthrough at this point after getting more accustomed to the speed and physicality last season.  


What Happened Last Year: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t make much of an impression during NHL training camp, and then went to Providence where he began to gather experience and log development time. There were injuries and slow periods, but Forsbacka Karlsson finished with a very strong 15 goals and 32 points of production in 58 games while centering Providence’s second line. Forsbacka gained valuable experience playing in all situations, sharpening his defensive skills and face-off abilities against improved competition, and built up enough in his own game to be much more competitive next time around in camp. A concussion knocked JFK out for most of the last six weeks of the season, however, and that put an unfortunate pause on what was a pretty strong opening campaign in the pros. 

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The only real question about JFK is whether he’s going to be ready to step up and seize the third line center job after the departure of free agent Riley Nash. The Bruins appear to be throwing a number of players into the mix for the third line center job with Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom all being considered for the job, and young prospects in JFK and Trent Frederic readying for their big NHL chances as well. The question is whether JFK is ready to handle the physicality and speed at the NHL level where much is expected out of a third line center right out of the bat, or whether another half-season of AHL development time would be more beneficial for the 21-year-old former college player.  

In Their Words: “It’s likely internal at this point, yes, and we have some very strong candidates. We have some young players that certainly want that slot, and we have a couple of guys internally that I think can move up and play that slot. At times when Anaheim was really injured at the first part of the year, Chris Wagner played in third-line roles, more of a shutdown situation, which we’ve used our players as. Sean Kuraly is certainly a player that wants to have a bigger role, and then you have the three younger players (including Forsbacka Karlsson) that we feel [can compete], and we also have a couple of other guys that we’ve added to the group that we’re going to go to work with and see where they fit in.” – Don Sweeney, talking about the third-line center competition headed into training camp.  

Overall Outlook: The 21-year-old Forsbacka Karlsson will go as far in training camp as his play allows him to with the Bruins. If JFK has reached the point where he can compete for an NHL job as the third-line center, then the Bruins will be getting a skilled, smart and dedicated two-way center able to hold down a top-9 center position. If JFK clearly isn’t ready and still needs another season, or at least a half-year, of gained strength, improved conditioning and learning the ins and outs of the NHL world, then the Bruins will move to the next group of candidates including Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner among others. Third-line center is an important enough position that the Bruins will make sure their young guys are ready to go if called into battle, but they’re also hedging their bets with viable veteran options in case the kids need more development.