Bruins

Talking Points: Rangers make Bruins pay for penalties

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Talking Points: Rangers make Bruins pay for penalties

GOLD STAR: King Henrik Lundqvist has pretty solid career numbers against the Bruins, and has enjoyed some very good games against the Black and Gold over the years. King Henrik’s Saturday night was more of the same with 33 saves in the overtime win, including a number in spots where the Bruins began to get decent pressure on the New York net. Lundqvist did allow a power play goal in the third period to allow the Bruins to force an overtime, but he also stopped 15 shots in the third period to make certain that the Bruins didn’t get any more in the final 20 minutes. It was all there: The flashy glove save attempts, the quick reaction saves going post-to-post and the solid play that forced the Bruins to actually beat him for everything they got.

BLACK EYE: You’ve got to put this one on the Bruins bench for taking a couple of too many men on the ice penalties at tough moments in the game. The first wiped out a Bruins power play late in the third period that might have given Boston a chance to end things in regulation, and the second was in the 3-on-3 OT during a moment of chaos as gassed Bruins players were attempting to come off the ice during a Rangers rush. Instead, it was a too many men on the ice penalty again, and this time it was Mats Zuccarello that made the Bruins pay with a game-winning PP strike through a Chris Kreider screen in front of Tuukka Rask. Bruce Cassidy said the B’s simply tried to get away with one in the overtime, but they were caught on a night when Boston had way too many mistakes to actually win the game.

TURNING POINT: An early turning point for the Bruins could have changed the game in their favor when Ryan Spooner had a goal overturned very early in the first period. Jake DeBrusk was offside as David Krejci entered the zone with the puck just prior to the goal, and the Rangers bench quickly and successfully challenged the play directly afterward. Given that the Rangers have played a busy schedule as of late, the Bruins believed they could have really put a lot of pressure on the Blueshirts if they could have taken an early lead. Instead, the Bruins fell behind by a two-goal deficit, and were once again playing catch-up hockey before finally falling in overtime.    

HONORABLE MENTION: Danton Heinen continues to play well for the Bruins, and has essentially been given a vote of confidence by the Bruins with the assignment of Matt Beleskey to the minor leagues. Heinen scored his seventh goal of the season when he stood in front of the net and tipped home a Zdeno Chara point shot in the second period that finally got the B’s offense going. Heinen finished with four shots on net and six shot attempts in his 15:25 of ice time, and is actually tied with Patrice Bergeron for third in the Bruins in goals after potting his seventh of the season. It’s a really good sign as well when a young guy like Heinen isn’t afraid to hang around in the shooting lanes for tips and redirections when a big shooter like Chara winds up and blasts away.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 – the number of giveaways the Bruins in the overtime loss to the Rangers where they consistently mismanaged the puck, turning things over to the Blueshirts on a regular basis. Brad Marchand led the B’s with four giveaways, but Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk were just behind him with three of their own.  

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “There were problems getting into the zone and there were problems in the zone…there were problems. We struggled on the power play. We’re not going to hide from that, but it got us a goal later, so we eventually kind of got it squared away. But we certainly had opportunities early to take advantage and we didn’t.” – Bruce Cassidy, talking about a Bruins power play that went 1-for-7 in the loss with just six total shots on net. 

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Countdown to Bruins training camp: Chris Wagner

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Countdown to Bruins training camp: Chris Wagner

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: Chris Wagner.

One of the offseason aims for the Boston Bruins was bringing a little more experience and a little more physical thump to their fourth line, and the Bruins did that by signing Chris Wagner to a two-year contract on the opening day of free agency. The addition of Wagner adds a hard-hitting, versatile element to the bottom-six up front for the Bruins, and also gives the Bruins yet another local success story as a Walpole, Mass., native coming home to play for his hometown team. The fact that Wagner plays with the blue collar, physical style favored by Bruins fans will make it all the better for him in his home state.   

What Happened Last Year: The 27-year-old Wagner had a strong season with the Anaheim Ducks/New York Islanders going into free agency with seven goals and 16 points in 79 games while finishing among the NHL’s top-5 in registered hits. It was the most games that Wagner has ever played in the NHL and the most production he’s ever posted as well. Based on his track record and how hard he plays the game, it shouldn’t be all that difficult for Wagner to at least play at least season’s level for the next few seasons while under contract with Boston. 

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The big question for the rugged, high-energy Wagner is where the ceiling will be for him over the next few seasons after cementing himself as an NHL player last season. Is he going to be good for something in the neighborhood of five goals/15 points as a third/fourth line forward, or can Wagner hit double-digit goals once he settles into with a role and linemates for the Black and Gold. The other part of that question is whether Wagner can continue with the desperation and maximum energy output that he played with for Anaheim/New York last season. Will the security of a multi-year deal in Boston allow Wagner to relax a little bit and potentially not play with the kind of fire required to hit, play physical and get in the other team’s face? Only time will tell on this one, but it’s tough to get against a player like Wagner that’s had to scrap for everything he’s got.  

In Their Words: “I just wanted to find the best situation, obviously. It seemed that they had success recently and definitely had a chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup. That was huge for me. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the character of the guys in the room with the Bruins. I’ve always wanted to play here and be close to home and be close to my family. My parent, my grandparents, and my brother and all that so it’s just a win-win and a dream come true.” –Chris Wagner, on the process behind signing with his hometown Bruins on the July 1 open of free agency. 

Overall Outlook: The Bruins let Tim Schaller walk away in free agency, so they had to go after another physical, energy player for their fourth line. They found that in Wagner for a similar level of pay at $1.25 million per season, and are once again betting on the player to come into his own during his time with the Black and Gold. It’s a bonus that he’s a local kid just like Schaller, and the hope is that he’ll have the same level of success on and off the ice that Schaller did before parlaying it into a contract with the Vancouver Canucks. If Wagner plays the same way he did last season with Anaheim and New York, both the player and the team should be happy with the level of performance over the next couple of seasons. Bruins fans love players that are willing to take the body and work hard, and that is Chris Wagner several times over.

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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.

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