Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

GOLD STAR: It took Bruce Cassidy shaking things up a little bit while dropping David Pastrnak down with David Krejci, but it got Pastrnak back playing his game and he scored his first two goals of the postseason. Pastrnak finished with the two second-period goals that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t give up. He also led the B’s with six shots on net in his 16:33 of ice time. 

Pastrnak finished with eight shot attempts, three hits and played a little faster and stronger on the puck while finishing off the chances he got in the middle of the game. The backhanded saucer pass from Brad Marchand to Pastrnak for a power-play one-timer was exactly the kind of slick, productive playmaking the two are capable of at any moment.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins finally stung the defensive stoppers that had been so good in this series for the Maple Leafs. John Tavares and Jake Muzzin each finished minus-3 and weren’t able to hold back Patrice Bergeron and Marchand as effectively when they were paired with Danton Heinen instead of Pastrnak. 

It extended to the face-off circle as well as Tavares was just 6-for-18 on the draw and didn’t seem to get the drop on Bergeron as he has in certain moments earlier in this series. Some of it might have been about the line shakeup that Cassidy introduced at the start of the game and some of it was about Boston’s best players finally outplaying the guys trying to stop them.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins twice had moments when they could have buckled if the Leafs could have taken advantage of them, but the B’s held strong in those moments and controlled play. In the second period, Tuukka Rask allowed a soft goal to Auston Matthews that clanged in off his glove hand and tied it at 2, but right at that moment, the Bruins surged forward and got a pair of goals from Pastrnak. Then in the third period, Toronto had them on the ropes again after scoring a couple of goals and closing to within one score, but the B’s defense and Rask hunkered down and didn’t allow another goal despite being outshot 16-9 in the final period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara was strong, solid and even got rewarded for his efforts with a goal in the third period that ended up being the game-winner. Chara finished with a goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time while putting yeoman’s work in the defensive zone with five hits and four blocked shots for a B’s group that blocked a whopping 25 shots. Chara isn’t always going to play these kinds of big-minute performances in the playoffs anymore at 42 years old, but he found a way to be very close to his best when the B’s needed him to be a stalwart shutdown guy. The goal in the third period that whistled past Freddie Andersen was just icing on the cake.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – The number of blocked shots for the Bruins, who doubled Toronto 25-12 in this category while really paying the physical price for the gritty, high-scoring victory.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was putting pressure on myself to help the team this way, so it was big for me. I feel relieved...and awake.” – David Pastrnak, on scoring his first two goals of this postseason. 

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Zdeno Chara set for elbow surgery among other banged-up Bruins

File photo

Zdeno Chara set for elbow surgery among other banged-up Bruins

BOSTON – Zdeno Chara was truly banged up at the end of the Bruins playoff run.

The 42-year-old captain obviously had the two plates and wires in his jaw holding together a pair of fractures suffered in the Game 4 loss to the St. Louis Blues. It was learned on Monday that Chara is also due to have surgery this week on his elbow to remove “loose fragments” from the area, and that recovery timeline will go right along with the weeks its going to take for his fractured jaw to heal as well.

“He’ll have it done this week and move forward, and allow that to recover along obviously with his jaw,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Every team at that stage deals with injuries. You would think coming out of a 10-day break before the Stanley Cup Final that you’d get healthy, but we weren’t. It just takes time for guys to heal. It takes time when you play 100 games and you have guys push up to the limits, or push beyond the limits, like Zdeno… that’s the obvious one that comes to mind. It’s a testament to the courage of each and every one of them to push through as it was with St. Louis and the other teams we were dealing with.”

Several other Bruins are due for surgery like John Moore set to have his shoulder repaired, and other Bruins like Noel Acciari (heel) and David Backes (undisclosed) are following up with doctors to see if they require surgical repairs. Joakim Nordstrom has a broken navicular bone in his foot that won’t require surgery, and likewise Patrice Bergeron’s groin isn’t going to require surgery to repair either.

Chris Wagner (displaced ulna) had screws and plates in a broken wrist following his blocked shot in Game 3 of the conference final as well, and somehow was trying to work back from that when he practiced ahead of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“I tried to come back pretty quick. I kind of fought to come back. That was probably the first possible day that I could have been available,” said Wagner. “The next day after surgery I felt so much better because I was in that much pain before. That’s the first bone that I’ve ever broken.” 

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Torey Krug decision at the crossroads of Bruins changing or staying pat

Torey Krug decision at the crossroads of Bruins changing or staying pat

Torey Krug was in the middle of plenty of trade rumors with the Bruins last summer, so it didn’t sound like the puck-moving D-man was shocked last week when his future in Boston was once again the topic of discussion at the start of this offseason.

Krug is coming off a strong regular season and a stellar postseason where he would have been in the conversation for Conn Smythe had the Bruins pulled out Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues. He tied with Alex Pietrangelo for the playoff lead with 16 assists through the entire postseason, and he did something that even Bobby Orr never did with a four-point game during the Stanley Cup Final. More importantly, Krug stayed healthy during the playoff run for the first time in the last three postseasons.

Krug was second on the B’s in ice time playing 22:20 per game, and held his own against much bigger opponents on oversized rosters in Columbus and St. Louis during the four rounds of the postseason. To say he answered plenty of questions this postseason would be an understatement, and underneath it all Krug played with the kind of cojones that scream out leadership and accountability.

All it takes is one shoving match between 5-foot-8 Krug and 6-foot-6 Colton Parayko during the Cup Final to know that he’s the kind of player who isn’t going to back down. He got drilled by Jake Muzzin with a missile body check in the first round that clearly stunned him for a few games afterward, but he never missed any time and ended up putting together a hell of a postseason.

So there’s little doubting that Krug’s value is at an all-time high right now coming off his 18 playoff points and plus-4 in 24 playoff games, and that is part of the problem when it comes to considering his future. Krug is entering the final season of a contract that will pay him $5.25 million and currently has him as the highest paid D-man on the B’s roster. That will likely be short-lived until Charlie McAvoy signs his next contract with the Black and Gold, but it’s still worth noting that the 28-year-old Krug carries the biggest salary cap hit.

It’s expected that Krug is going to get a substantial pay bump on his next deal entering unrestricted free agency next summer at 29 years old, and that’s where the trade scenarios begin coming into play. It’s difficult to envision the Bruins being able to afford Krug after paying out RFA money to both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo this offseason.

It’s also reaching a point where McAvoy is ready to take that next step as a PP quarterback for the top power-play unit, and step into more of the offense that Krug has been providing for the B’s over the last few seasons. If Krug were to be traded it would be largely because youngsters like McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk are ready to take on more responsibility and perhaps fill the void left by such a player who’s topped 50 points in each of the last three regular seasons.

So the next logical step would be to move Krug in a deal for a substantial player coming back in return with the offensive D-man coming off a big season, and still sporting a reasonable cap hit for at least the coming season. If the Bruins could land the top-6 power forward-type with some goal-scoring ability that they sorely lack up front by moving Krug elsewhere, that is something that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would need to consider.

That’s probably why the Bruins GM didn’t outright reject the notion of dealing Krug while addressing the media on Monday morning, and instead indicated he’d need to be blown away to even consider it. Cut through all the words and that means Sweeney is considering it this summer given the roster and cap needs for his hockey club moving forward.

“Torey is an important part of our hockey club. I was proud of his efforts. He took to heart being in a top-4 role this year, particularly in the playoffs where he was going to face some tough matchups on the road. He handled it really well,” said Sweeney. “The power play and the points really speak for themselves, and have for his entire time here. He’s a big part of our club.

“We have an opportunity on July 1 to open up talks, and some of it will be dictated by the RFA market and some internal things will dictate the timing of those conversations. If somebody blew us away [with a trade offer] then every player has to be looked at in that way. From an organizational standpoint, it would be a disservice if you don’t. It would take a pretty unique opportunity for us to part with Torey. We believe that he’s in the fabric of our group and he’s kind of that next wave of leadership behind the guys that have carried the mantle for a long time. He’s an important part of our club.”

What does Krug want?

The undrafted defenseman obviously wants to remain with the only NHL home that he’s known in Boston, and wants to be a part of the leadership group still pushing for that elusive next Stanley Cup.

“It’s been my goal since Day One to be a part of this locker room and a part of this core group,” said Krug, of remaining with the Bruins. “I’ve been lucky enough to stay for a while and I want to be here forever. It’s a great group of guys and I feel privileged to be a part of this group. You want to bring something to the table yourself and hopefully I’ve done that.”

He’s certainly earned that consideration as one of the most prolific defensemen in the NHL over the last five years with guys like Erik Karlsson, John Klingberg and Brent Burns as his peers from an offensive production standpoint.

But the NHL is also a business — and even the B’s general manager didn’t rule out the possibility of trading Krug if the right deal comes along for his team. It feels more likely that Krug will return to a Bruins team that could use him as they try to get back to the Stanley Cup Final again next season, but the trade rumors will be as real as they’ve ever been for the 28-year-old during his six full seasons in Boston. 

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