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Bruins winger Brad Marchand ejected for spearing Lightning’s Jake Dotchin 04.04.17 at 8:37 pm ET
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Bruins winger Brad Marchand just can’t get out of his own way when it comes to cheap and unnecessary nonsense.

Late in the first period of the team’s biggest game of the season (the Bruins win this game in regulation and they clinch a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs), Marchand engaged with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin in a spirited effort in front of the Lightning net before he swung back and viciously speared Dotchin in the privates.

Assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing, the B’s lost their leading scorer after just 19:20 of game time, and 5:17 of ice time for the 28-year-old Marchand. In spite of Marchand’s antics, the Bruins would survive the five-minute penalty and hold the Bolts to just two shots on B’s netminder Tuukka Rask on the five-minute kill.

But now the question becomes as to whether or not Marchand will face supplemental discipline from the league for the spear.

Marchand has already avoided a suspension on two separate occasions this year, once for a slewfoot on Detroit d-man Niklas Kronwall, and then later for a similar trip against Tampa’s Anton Stralman. It was after the Kronwall incident that Marchand admitted that he needs to use better judgement to avoid future meetings with the league’s Department of Player Safety.

“The last thing I want to be doing is continuing to go back in front of those guys,” said Marchand. “I’m sure they’re sick of seeing me. So instances like last game, they can be avoided. Just smarter decisions. Something I’ll continue to work on.”

Marchand has been suspended four times since the start of the 2010-11 season, and the Bruins have just two more regular season games after this, so it’s possible that any suspension handed down to Marchand could bleed into the postseason if the B’s make it.

Bruins look to clinch playoff spot tonight against Lightning 04.04.17 at 6:41 pm ET
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The Bruins can punch their ticket to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff tonight. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins can punch their ticket to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff tonight. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Win in regulation and you’re in.

It’s as simple as that for the Bruins against the Lightning tonight at TD Garden. But as back-to-back collapses out of postseason qualification in the final week of the season have shown us, calling it that ‘simple’ is not a good idea. So maybe this is a topic that’s better tiptoed around with the subtle acknowledgement of what’s at stake tonight.

“This was our goal when the year started, right: to get in?” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “Guys know what’s at stake, and it’s about playing the right way and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

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Reading entirely too much into Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and the Bruins 04.04.17 at 3:02 am ET
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Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Prized Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed his entry-level deal and is reporting right to Boston. Well really from his place at Boston University and down about five T stops to TD Garden, but nevertheless, he’s turned pro and is with the Bruins.

Pending immigration approval, he’s also expected be on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena early Tuesday when the Bruins gear up for their head-to-head with the visiting Lightning. A regulation win and the Bruins punch their ticket to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And for a team that’s missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, that’s exciting on its own, of course. But let’s go back to Forsbacka Karlsson for just a moment, if you don’t mind.

The fact that Forsbacka Karlsson is here — and not in Providence like BU teammate and fellow highly-touted B’s prospect Charlie McAvoy (for now, of course) — should be far from a surprise, even if his name is not the sexiest one of the lot of players fans expected to make the jump from college right to the pros.

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NHL will not send players to 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang 04.03.17 at 4:51 pm ET
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The NHL will not go to the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The NHL will not go to the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The NHL had no problem delaying the start of their season for the completely phony and unnecessary 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but they will not put their league on hold next year for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, according to a league release.

“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement released on Monday. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

And while somewhat expected, this is a bummer for a number of reasons.

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Bruins sign BU’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to 3-year entry-level deal 04.02.17 at 5:51 pm ET
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Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has signed with the Bruins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy isn’t the only Boston University Terrier joining the Bruins organization. The B’s announced on Sunday that they have signed 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to a three-year entry-level contract.

According to the Bruins, Forsbacka Karlsson, whose name is often shortened to “JFK” by fans, is expected to join the B’s this week, suggesting he will not start in Providence like McAvoy.

The 20-year-old Forsbacka Karlsson served as an alternate captain for BU as a sophomore this season and posted 14 goals and 19 assists in 39 games. His best game came back on Jan. 5 when he registered a hat trick, including the overtime winner, in a 5-4 win over Union, a game in which BU was missing seven players due to the World Junior Championships.

Forsbacka Karlsson followed that up with two more goals in the next game, a win over UMass, then scored in each end of a weekend sweep over Boston College. The Sweden native cooled off a bit offensively following that four-game stretch, scoring four goals over BU’s final 18 games.

However, Forsbacka Karlsson’s all-around game remained strong, which is a big reason he’s now a Bruin. He’s been touted as a very good two-way center since before he was drafted, and it was easy to see why if you watched him at BU. He’s a smart player who seems to always be in good position and always making the right play. He’s not what you’d call flashy, but he also rarely makes mistakes.

That two-way play should give him a chance to stick on the Bruins’ third or fourth line even if his offense isn’t quite there yet.

 

Bruins sweep weekend, beat Blackhawks to win 5th straight 04.02.17 at 4:52 pm ET
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The Bruins won their fifth game in a row behind a 3-2 final on Sunday. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins won their fifth game in a row behind a 3-2 final on Sunday. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

Do you remember this weekend a year ago?

The Bruins were clinging to their playoff lives and had a potentially season-defining weekend slate in front of them. Both road games, both tough matchups, with the latter one coming on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back and to be played in Chicago.

The Bruins split that weekend then, with a win over the Blues and a loss to the Blackhawks. This year, in a slightly different weekend (the Bruins began the weekend at home before a game against the Blackhawks came on Sunday) and in the early signs of a reversal of last year, the Bruins completed the weekend sweep with today’s 3-2, claw-it-out finish in a winning effort against the Hawks at the United Center.

And they did it with the help of depth pieces and stars alike.

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Anton Khudobin gets call in net for Bruins vs. Blackhawks 04.02.17 at 12:25 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin will start against the Blackhawks today. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will start against the Blackhawks today. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins enter Chicago down three forwards — Frank Vatrano and Tim Schaller were announced as out for the weekend after Friday’s practice, and Jimmy Hayes was injured in Saturday’s win over the Panthers — and have made a call to Providence for help.

An emergency recall late last night, forward Sean Kuraly is back with the Black and Gold for the second time in the last few weeks, and is expected to skate on a line with Ryan Spooner and Drew Stafford.

Kuraly comes back to the Big B’s with 14 goals and 26 points in 52 games for the P-Bruins, and has skated in five games for Boston this year, with zero points, three hits, and seven shots on goal.

With Stafford dropped back down to the third line’s right wing, Matt Beleskey will receive a bump back up to the club’s second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak.

On the second leg of a traveling back-to-back, Anton Khudobin gets the call for the Bruins.

Khudobin has won five straight games, and stopped 18-of-19 shots in a 2-1 win over the Islanders eight days ago, and has six wins and an .899 save percentage in 12 decisions this season. The 30-year-old Khudobin, for whatever reason, has been great under Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy, though, with a perfect 5-0-0 record and .920 save percentage.

Corey Crawford gets the start in the opposite crease. Crawford has 32 wins and a .920 save percentage in 52 games this season, and has been especially dominant at the United Center, with 16 wins and a .930 save percentage in 26 home contests this year.

The Bruins lost their only prior head-to-head with the Hawks this season by a 1-0 final at TD Garden on Jan. 20.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Sean Kuraly – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Colin Miller – Kevan Miller

Anton Khudobin

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