Boston Bruins Monday Round-Up
Your spot for the top stories in Boston Bruins Nation this past week
Every Monday we will bring you highlights of the Bruins news from the past week. Busy with work, kids, playing video games - no problem. Get caught up here on all you need to know with quick summaries and links to all the great in-depth reporting from the Bruinsverse. Without further ado, here are this week's top stories.
Games - There were games this week! For the first time in over 100 days, the Bruins played against somebody! While the return of games brought great joy they have also caused anxiety about the Bruins' longevity in the bubble. The Bruins had moments where they looked like themselves but a number that was uncharacteristic of a stingy team. Turnovers and defensive miscues were coupled with an offense averaging just a goal a game over an exhibition and round-robin match-up Head Coach Bruce Cassidy implored his team to better manage the puck and get shots to the net. Already guaranteed a playoff spot the Bruins could theoretically go 0-3 and in two months it could be meaningless. Joe Haggerty at NBC Sports and numerous Bs fans though don't feel like the Bs have the luxury to just coast in the round-robin. Check out the great game recaps from @BlacknGoldPod and our detailed post-game analysis.
Life in the Bubble - Life in the bubble is unique. One NHL player, in a TSN.ca article, stated it felt like a youth hockey tournament just with booze. #BubbleLife seems to be working thus far with no new positive tests for COVID-19 amongst the NHL traveling parties. What is this unique situation like for the players in it? A couple of Bruins spent some time discussing the unprecedented situation. Brendan Carlo shared insights on the mental challenges of the bubble and being away from home with Matt Porter over at The Globe. Sean Kuraly penned an article with Fluto Shinzawa talking about life in the bubble, sharing thus far there are some minor adjustments to make but boredom has yet to set in.
David Pastrnak Returns - Pasta is back! Concern over Pasta's status dominated the headlines for all of Phase 3 and the start of Phase 4. Pretty much every Bruin's outlet spent extensive time on this one. Stanley Cup of Chowder shared President Cam Neely's declaration Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were "unfit to play". Haggerty at NBC Sports shared comments by Neely that expressed disappointment in the young star's decision making that led to the absence. The absences caused some challenges in line-up making throughout camp as reported by Fluto Shinzawa.
But Pastrnak was able to travel to the team with Toronto and get practicing as soon as the team entered the bubble. He has had moments where he looked like himself and proved his hands are not still on summer vacation. However, both Pastrnak and his linemates have struggled to produce offense and not shown up on the scoresheet. Underlying numbers also indicate that it was not just bad luck as they were dominated by Philadelphia's top line in the possession and expected goals, not the norm for a line dubbed (frequently on the NBC broadcast) the perfection line.
Anders Bjork's New Contract - Anders Bjork, a 24 year old American, signed a 3-year contract extension with the Bs this week! Congrats to Anders! According to CapFriendly.com, the contract will pay, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.8 year over year for a cap hit of 1.6 per year for the Bs. He remains a restricted free agent when the contract expires. Conor Ryan at Boston Sports Journal is among the majority in Bs Land who feel this contract was a steal by GM Don Sweeney. Bjork had a great career at Notre Dame and has shown he is too good for the AHL. He has flashed potential at the NHL level but his career has been hampered by injuries never quite reaching what people feel his ceiling can be. Fluto Shinzawa points out the questions still surrounding who is the real Anders Bjork. Age 24 is usually the top of the growth curve where what you see is what you get in an NHLer but perhaps a healthy Bjork can prove to be more. The folks over at BlacknGold certainly feel Bjork has the potential to breakout.
"Unfit to Play" - Missing players continue to be a storyline for this Bruins team. On Sunday Tuukka Rask was expected to start but was said to be not feeling well and the Bruins preferred to rest him. Rask was limited in training camp by bad finger. While Jaroslav Halak is an able backup it seems like Rask is a key to a long Boston run. Turns out a cough kept Tuukka away and he is back with the team and on the ice.
It appears Ondrej Kase is finally skating again and the same goes for Nick Ritchie. If and when the trade deadline acquisitions get in the lineup will be worth keeping an eye on. Jack Studnicka look like he aced his audition alongside David Krejci in the exhibition game but along with the rest of the second line struggled a fair bit against the Flyers. Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman had a strong showing next to Charlie Coyle and hope to hold onto those spots moving forward.
#Kneel4Hockey, #Weplayfor - Social Justice issues continue to dominate headlines in society and the NHL is no exception. With games restarting, fans and followers have been waiting to see how the NHL and it's teams will respond to the issues at hand. The NHL has coined the hashtag #weplayfor and each team has been using the hashtag to acknowledge social justice issues as well as first responders of the current pandemic. Banners have been displayed behind each goal in the name of social justice. However, many have been frustrated with a lack of outward initiatives and the fact that NHLers have continued to stand for the anthem. A Leafs fan, @TheLeafsIMO, started the #kneel4hockey movement and it's taken off amongst fans frustrated their sport hasn't been very outspoken, at least in the early going of their restart. The standing of players became even more controversial and politicized when Donald Trump Jr. weighed in, eliciting the response below from Akim Aliu.
If you are interested in this issue I strongly encourage you to listen to this speech by Matt Dumba who knelt for the anthem and raised a fist, JT Brown's reflection on raising a fist years ago while playing in Tampa, and the many insightful comments by Anthony Stewart on actions speaking louder than words in this Athletic article
The Bruins for their part have shared that they will link arms before games in support of the African-American Community. However, some controversy ensued when Tuukka Rask wore a Boston Police hat on a zoom interview. Resulting criticism was met by a terse Twitter exchange involving Brad Marchand. One of the Bs other initiatives will be to recognize those engaged in Social Justice work as part of the Bruins Fan Banner.
Well, now that we are all caught up, let's hope the Bs can score more goals than the other team for the first time in months with this week's matchups against the Caps and Lightning. Look for our pre-game previews and post-game breakdowns for the final 2 round-robin games.
Stay classy #BruinsFam