Tag Archives: BST&N

B’s Beat: The Merlot Line Continues To Struggle

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The Boston Bruins’ Merlot Line has been a sparkplug for the team for the better part of the last four seasons. The B’s struggled to create the perfect fourth line for a few years with guys like Stephane Yelle, Steve Begin, and Glen Metropolit at center, before making a trade with the Panthers for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell in 2010.

Obviously Horton was the big piece in that deal, but Campbell was more than just a simple throw in. He immediately brought stability to the line that turned into the best fourth line in the game. It could actually be argued that the rest of the NHL followed suit with their fourth lines after watching the B’s roll all four lines en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years against Vancouver.

I am not being so overly dramatic as to say they changed the game, but teams definitely took notice.

Shawn Thornton provided the brawn and energy for that line, Campbell was an all-around defensive guy with the occasional offensive flair, and Daniel Paille was a speedster with the ability to keep opposing defensemen honest. They just had unreal chemistry that you can’t teach.

So what happened to them?

Well for starters, the NHL is starting to trend away from the enforcer type guys like Shawn Thornton. The Bruins cut ties with the 37 year old winger last season and he signed with the Florida Panthers in the offseason. His character and leadership will clearly be missed, but his play on the ice was definitely beginning to show signs of wear.

I understand that it may be difficult for Paille and Campbell to have to adjust to him moving on, but I don’t believe for a second that his departure is affecting them as much as it seems. They also have a new linemate in Simon Gagne who is coming off of a full season of no NHL action.

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B’s Beat: Seth Griffith Making The Most Of Opportunity With Bruins

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One of the biggest problems for the Boston Bruins this year, aside from consistency, is their inability to replace the void Jarome Iginla left when he decided sign with Colorado. Guys like Iggy obviously don’t grow on trees, which is why it was nearly impossible to replace him in free agency



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Hell; even if there was a guy like him available in free agency, it isn’t like they could afford it given their terrible salary cap situation. Who am I kidding?

In the offseason; the B’s were essentially forced to plan on giving a shot to the underrated Loui Eriksson, who underwhelmed in his first season in Boston due to two significant concussions. It wasn’t ideal for the team to break up the Loui and Carl Soderberg connection, but they really didn’t have a choice.

That was until the team stumbled out of the gate, the Soderberg line was the only successful line, and they proved that their chemistry was too good to split up.

This development left the B’s back at square one with the Krejci line, right wing problem. They tried plugging Ryan Spooner as that team’s center to no avail, Matt Fraser had an opportunity to step in and earn himself a spot, but he underwhelmed.

It was at this point that the Bruins called up diminutive winger Seth Griffith from Providence.

Griffith was a fifth round for the Bruins in 2012. He played his OHL career with the London Knights from 2009 to 2013 and amassed 102 goals, 129 assists, and a +36 in 207 games. He was also a stellar playoff weapon for the Knights with 26 goals, 36 assists, and a +18 in 56 games. Griffith was also part of the team when they won back-to-back OHL Championships in 2012 and 2013.

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B’s Beat: Claude Julien’s Extension, David Pastrnak, And Injury Updates

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The Boston Bruins signed Head Coach Claude Julien to a three year extension last Sunday. The moves come after a few days of speculation from various media members around the hub. While it is unclear as to whether or not he had another year left on his deal or not, the B’s were wise to avoid leaving Julien as a “lame duck”.

Julien is the longest tenured coach in the NHL aside from Detroit’s Mika Babcock, who himself may be with a new team next season. I believe it’s a good move for the team, as Julien has really brought a winning system to the team, while also creating its identity. Sometimes a coach’s voice can fall silent after many years with a team (see Barry Trotz), but he has done well in keeping the team hungry and competitive over the last 5-6 years.

The former Jack Adam’s winner has a career record with the B’s of 318-171-65, a Stanley Cup with the team in 2011, and an Olympic gold medal with Canada in this year’s Sochi Olympics.

The extension is expected to run through the 2017/18 season, though it unclear as to how many years he had left on his current contract as said above.

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Adorable Little Bruins Fan Fist Bumps Players After Pre-Game Warm-ups (VIDEO)

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Hockey players are probably the nicest and all around best athletes in sports. They always take time out for the kids, especially this adorable little Bruins fan after pre-game warm ups.

This little guy is having the time of his life fist bumping the players as they exited the ice….

Reason #237, why hockey is the best sport on the planet!

Pot of Baked Beans Goes To Hockey Web Caster!

Broncos vs Patriots: Manning vs Brady XVI

Tomorrow sees the 16th installment in the legendary rivalry between two of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game and as always there are high stakes when Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos go head to head against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

With the Patriots on a four game winning streak they have been resurgent after a slow start to the 2014 season but now find themselves at 6-2 after a 2-2 start and with a chance to place themselves in the first seed position for the playoffs if they manage to defeat Denver tomorrow. The Broncos are also on a 4 game winning streak so they will walk in to Gillette Stadium full of confidence especially having beaten the Patriots when the two teams last met in last seasons AFC Championship game.

That victory in January avenged the demons of a 34-31 comeback victory by Brady’s Patriots earlier in that season when New England rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit to knock off the Broncos in their own back yard but with Denver’s 26-16 postseason victory a couple of months after that encounter just mentioned Manning tied his head to head postseason record against Brady to 2-2 all-time.

Unfortunately for Peyton history does suggest that the Patriots could well come out as the victors tomorrow with Brady holding a 10-5 all-time winning record over his old foe. With New England’s huge 51-23 win over Chicago last Sunday this team is slowly moving through the gears week by week and finding ways to win after winning a narrow one against the Jets 27-25 the week before and knocking off the Bills in their own backyard 37-22.

With a bye week next week for the Patriots a win tomorrow against Denver would set them up perfectly for their remaining 7 games and allow them to focus on their tough tasks ahead as they go in search of claiming home field advantage for the playoffs; something that would definitely benefit the Patriots if they have to play the Broncos in the postseason as taking Peyton Manning out of Mile High stadium would work huge favours for New England.

The most intriguing aspect of tomorrow’s matchup is the improved fortunes of both of these teams defenses and that is what makes this game a lot more interesting in comparison to the other meetings we’ve seen between these two teams in recent years. The Patriots may be without their best pass rusher in Chandler Jones but have made two additions at linebacker before the trade deadline this past Tuesday to cover for the season ending injury to Jerod Mayo and also possess the number one pass defense in the league.

Manning vs Brady Round 16

That will be put to the test by what many considering to be the most devastating offense in the NFL and one that has added a versatile running back to its armory in recent weeks to go along with the ridiculously effective passing game that Manning has going on in Denver. Peyton is tied with Andrew Luck for the most touchdowns in the league with 22 but has to just 3 interceptions to the third years 9. Manning’s efficiency will be vital to any success the Broncos want to have tomorrow especially going up against a Bill Belichick defense that thrives on forcing turnovers.

The Patriots are tied for 7th in the league with 10 forced fumbles and have recovered 8 which leaves them tied for 2nd in that category. They are also tied 8th in interceptions with 8 and 9th in sacks with 21 so you can tell that the Pats defense has been playing at a very high level. Star cornerback Darrelle Revis is back to his superstar best challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage and has locked down star studded wideouts such as AJ Green and Brandon Marshall along with rookie sensation Sammy Watkins in the first half of this season.

Add Revis to a secondary that includes the likes of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan along with the return of Brandon Browner who made a massive personal improvement last week against the Bears following his debut against the Jets and it is clear to see this team has talent. That is not even including the players at the front of the D such as Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork who are all key contributors to the success of this unit.

They in particular will need to step up in Chandler Jones’ absence who is arguably the Patriots best all round defensive player. As for the Broncos defense well they aren’t exactly slouches themselves after adding the likes of DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib who left the Patriots for Denver this past offseason. Denver’s defense ranks high in key categories too; 6th in sacks with 23, 13th in interceptions with 7 but they are a lowly 31st in forced fumbles with 3 and just one recovery.

On paper despite Brady’s historical upper hand over Manning as well as the drastic improvements this Patriots offense has made week by week the Broncos offense is still edges that of New England and I feel that the outcome of this game will be decided by who wins out of the Patriots defense and Broncos offense when these two units go up against each other tomorrow.

As mentioned earlier Manning has 22 TD’s to just 3 picks and a host of weapons with the dynamic duo of Julius and Demaryius Thomas with the two having hauled in 15 of Peyton’s 22 scores this season. The other 7 are with Emmanuel Sanders who had 3 last week against the Chargers, 4 on the year, along with Jacob Tamme (2) and Wes Welker with just the one this season. Add that with running back Ronnie Hillman, he has broke on the scene in Montee Ball’s absence, who has 347 yards and 2 touchdowns in his past 4 games then you can begin to evaluate just how good this Denver offense is.

But as we know the Patriots offense is not looking too shabby either after fantastic performance after performance in October which ended with Tom Brady being announced AFC offensive Player of the month. Brady had a 129.1 passer rating, with 1,268 yards and 14 touchdowns in those 4 Patriots victories and personally I feel this has propelled him in to the MVP conversation along with Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, DeMarco Murray and JJ Watt.

Brady completed 30 of 35 passing attempts for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns last week leaving him with a quarterback rating of 148.4. Rob Gronkowski had 9 catches for 149 receiving yards and 3 TD’s and has definitely got back to his devastating best as Gronk now has 7 touchdowns this season leaving him tied for 4th. Brandon LaFell has also built up fantastic rapport with Brady and has 4 touchdowns on the year with 1 last week hauling in 124 yards in the process.

Ever since that Monday Night meltdown against the Chiefs all Brady and co have done is prove the doubters wrong. Anyone who did doubt Tom Brady’s abilities is quite frankly an idiot but he did what any fantastic player does and that was silence his critics on the field. The change in fortunes has brought a breath of fresh air along with hope in New England. Brady now has 18 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions on the year which ranks him 5th only behind Manning, Luck, Rivers and Rodgers.

Now that the Patriots have solved offensive line issues and the offense is performing at a high level you would have to say they are one of the best teams in the league due to their all round talent on defense, offense and special teams. Despite the loss of Stevan Ridley on the ground Shane Vereen has continued to be a brilliant weapon for Brady in the running and passing game and is the type of versatile player that Brady and Belichick love.

Vereen has one rushing touchdown for 281 yards giving him a 4.8 average and two receiving touchdowns for 208 yards. Jonas Gray was added to the running game fold last week and put in an impressive debut with the big bodied back racking up 98 yards off 20 carries averaging 4.9 yards a carry. If he can continue to impress he will be the Patriots’ equivalent of Denver’s Ronnie Hillman and a well welcomed running game addition to a team that possess one of the most efficient passing games in the NFL.

Gronk (7), LaFell (4), Vereen (2), Amendola (1) and Tyms (1) are the recepients of Brady’s passing scores this year but the guy who has been particularly important to the improvements of the passing game is Gronks new tight end partner Tim Wright. He possesses the other 3 Brady touchdown scores and Wright’s addition to the offense has given Brady a new tight end duo threat to trouble opposing offenses which has given Brady and the Pats offense to get all of these offensive players mentioned involved.

The rewards are key to see and after analysing both Denver and New England’s offenses tomorrows game will be a mouth watering encounter especially as we know the quality of both sides defenses as well. Personally I feel this is the most exciting regular season game since the November 7th encounter in the 2007 season when the 8-0 Patriots faced off against Manning’s 7-0 Colts. Despite the quality of both offenses both defenses can force mistakes in the opposing offenses and that is why I feel that it will be a nail biting game for fans of both teams that will end in a close one. I will go out on a limb and say that the Patriots get a repeat of that close win back in 07 and triumph over the Broncos 24-20 setting up a thrilling race for the first seed position come playoff time!

B’s Beat: Injuries On Bruins’ Back-End

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With the injury to Torey Krug being announced just days ago, the Bruins now find themselves without three defensemen from their opening day roster. It’s been quite the roller coaster for the B’s, as they’ve had to manage a poor start while coping with the preseason trade of Johnny Boychuk.

Yes, I still believe it had to be done.

If you’re going to be critical of the Bruins’ front office for moving Boychuk now, in wake of these injuries on the back-end, I would advise you to save your breath. Obviously the trade looks really bad now, but all of these injuries are unlucky if anything. You can’t predict the frequency and severity of these ailments regardless of your disdain for Peter Chiarelli.

It’s also redundant to keep talking about a guy who isn’t a Bruin anymore.

Zdeno Chara’s injury was obviously the most brutal pill to swallow. He’s an aging player which obviously hurts his ability to recover at a quicker pace, despite being the freak athlete that he is. Z is also the most important player on the team’s defense for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s the powerplay, penalty kill, massive minutes every night and presence on and off the ice; the Bruins do not have a player that can fill his shoes for any length of time.

Fortunately, he’s only going to be out 4-6 weeks.

His injury had the potential to be a blessing in disguise given the fact that it would’ve allowed some of the younger Bruins’ defensemen to play bigger minutes and develop into larger roles with the team. It also would’ve allowed the big man to rest up in an effort to avoid burning out come playoff time. Unfortunately the injuries to Kevan Miller and Torey Krug have all but dampened those hopes, as the team has found itself substantially shorthanded for one of the most important months of the season.

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