|Meet your new NHL goals and points leader: Bruins winger Brad Marchand||03.16.17 at 2:19 am ET|
It’s March 16 and Bruins winger Brad Marchand is leading the National Hockey League in goals and points. Just like we all expected, I’m sure.
In what’s emerging as one of the most incredible start to finish runs in recent B’s history, Marchand continued his tear on Wednesday night with a goal and an assist in Boston’s 5-2 win over the Flames.
The goal, number 36 of Marchand’s season and by all means gifted to him by Flames netminder Chad Johnson, pushed him one ahead of Sidney Crosby, with whom he entered action tied with at 35, for the league lead (Crosby’s Penguins were shutout by the Flyers last night).
And with the assist on David Pastrnak’s empty-net goal, Marchand’s 40th helper of the season, the 28-year-old’s point total was bumped up to 76, which puts him in a tie with Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid for the most in the NHL.
“Now that he’s close I’m sure he’s going to will himself to be the leading scorer, and if he doesn’t he’s going to be close, because when Brad gets after something, he’s not going to be denied,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Marchand before Wednesday’s win over the Flames. “First it was getting to the National Hockey League, then getting into the lineup being a regular, and then moving up the lineup. He’s a pretty determined fella.”
Marchand’s leaguewide destruction is nothing new, of course, as he currently ranks third in goals scored since the start of the 2015-16 season with 73 (Kane has 77 and Alex Ovechkin has a league-best 78) and ranks 10th in points since then.
The Bruins have not had a player lead the league in goals since Phil Esposito scored 61 in 1974-75, and have not had a player lead the league in points since Bobby Orr tallied 135 in that same season. The Bruins have never had a player lead the league in both goals and points. Esposito was the last Bruin to lead the league in both in the same season, too, accomplished in 1973-74.
|Bruins winger David Pastrnak hits 30-goal mark in win over Flames||03.16.17 at 1:37 am ET|
Goalie or no goalie they all count the same, and after the empty-net dagger scored in a 5-2 Bruins win over the Flames, third-year pro David Pastrnak is officially the NHL’s newest 30-goal scorer.
30 goals seemed like a mere inevitability for the 20-year-old Pastrnak this year — even when he was mired in a mid-season slump that included just one goal in 20 games from Dec. 10 to Feb. 1 — but the plateau does put Pastrnak in a group with some elite company.
With 30 goals and 32 helpers on the season, Pastrnak becomes the 10th player since 2005 to have recorded a 30-goal, 30-assist season before the age of 21. The other names on that list? Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Skinner, Steven Stamkos, and Jonathan Toews. Crosby and Stamkos were the only two of that group to accomplish the feat twice.
The goal also made Pastrnak just the third skater in Bruins history to have recorded a 30-goal season before the age of 21, joining Barry Pederson (44 goals in 1981-82) and Bergeron (31 goals in 2005-06). It’s worth noting that former Bruins sniper Phil Kessel did record 36 goals in his third season in town, but turned 21 years old right before the start of the season.
Pastrnak is currently paced to finish the season with 36 goals and 74 points this season.
|David Backes shows off character with game-winning goal against Flames||03.16.17 at 12:42 am ET|
Sports fans love to see their team’s best players get injured and then return from said injury all within the same game.
It probably seems bizarre to the casual observer, and I’ll be honest and admit to them that I can’t explain it. It’s just a thing and will always will be a thing. Some players have built an entire reputation on their ability to endure the bumps and bruises of a season and actually use them to their advantage in the late stages of a year with sheer willpower.
David Backes is without a doubt one of those players.
The 6-foot-3 Backes has the scars and NHL track record to prove it, too, which is one of the reasons why the Black and Gold chose to invest $30 million in a player on the wrong side of 30 (Backes turns 33 later this year) last summer. An ironman willing to battle through anything — deficits, hits, and sometimes people — Backes showed off that part of his lauded character in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Flames, a win that snapped Calgary’s 10-game winning streak and one that featured more than a couple of battles for Backes.
|Can Bruins end the Flames’ 10-game win streak?||03.15.17 at 8:41 pm ET|
The odds and recent history would tell you that the Bruins are up against it tonight when they skate against the Flames.
Not only have the Bruins won in Calgary just two times since 1999, and not only did the Flames take the prior head-to-head between the two teams this season, but the Flames come into action with a franchise-best 10-game winning streak to their name. Oh, and the Bruins are starting backup netminder Anton Khudobin over Tuukka Rask.
An easy win? This will be anything but.
But that same logic could and should be applied for the Bruins.
|Report: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to turn pro after BU season ends||03.15.17 at 4:43 pm ET|
Boston’s newest ‘JFK’ — Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson — could make the jump from Comm. Ave to Causeway St. a little sooner than anticipated, according to a report from the Red Line Report’s Kirk Luedeke.
On his latest post on his personal blog, Luedeke writes that Forsbacka Karlsson, a second-round draft pick (45th overall) in 2015, is leaning towards turning pro once his sophomore season with the Boston University Terriers comes to close.
This was something Bruins general manager Don Sweeney hinted at during his trade deadline press conference.
“We have college kids that may decide [to go pro] and make that decision a little easier,” Sweeney said of the organization’s collegiate prospects. “Those are case by case situations. But we do have some players that we’re going to make decisions on or they’re gonna make decisions in the coming weeks. And we have flexibility to be able to do that — to add those players contractually and bring them into the fold if that’s what we decide to do and that’s what they decide to do.”
Masked by the hype of Terriers teammate and fellow Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy, Forsbacka Karlsson has been compared to Patrice Bergeron for his defensive instincts as a centerman, and his ability to get the job done in all three zones of the rink. That has been the case since he first joined the Terriers, and came through in his last game, as Forsbacka Karlsson was a standout in BU’s Game 2 win over Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals last weekend.
“He was huge,” BU coach David Quinn said of Forsbacka Karlsson. “He’s been a little snakebitten in the point department, but when we needed him most, he stood tall. … Jakob not only had three points, but he played well for 200 feet.”
A Stockholm, Swe. native, the 6-foot-1 forward has 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games with BU since 2015.
|Bruins prospect Anders Bjork named finalist for Hobey Baker Award||03.15.17 at 4:13 pm ET|
Bruins prospect Anders Bjork has been on fire all year long, and has been properly recognized for his accomplishments with the word that Bjork is among the 10 finalists for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award.
In his junior season with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the 20-year-old Bjork has recorded 19 goals and 47 points in just 35 games for the Irish. Those 47 points are not only a career-high for Bjork, but also rank as the sixth-most in Hockey East and 11th-most in the country.
The Wisconsin-born Bjork currently ranks 46th on the Irish’s all-time scoring list, with 104 points in 111 games, and became the first player to record 100 career points by his junior year since T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee accomplished the feat in 2013, according to Notre Dame.
A fifth-round draft pick (146th overall) in 2014, Bjork’s team will skate at TD Garden this weekend as they compete against UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East semifinals on Friday, Mar. 17 at 5 p.m.
It’s believed that the Bruins will make a significant push to get Bjork signed this summer.
|Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin will get start vs. Flames||03.15.17 at 2:25 pm ET|
Set to kick off the first of three back-to-backs remaining on their 13-game slate to finish the season, Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy will turn to Anton Khudobin tonight against the Flames.
Confirmed as the starter following Tuesday’s optional skate at Corral Arena in Calgary, Khudobin’s start against the Flames means that Tuukka Rask will get the call Thursday night against the Oilers.
As detailed on Tuesday, the importance of Cassidy successfully managing each goalie’s workload to finish out the season remains a key for the Black and Gold, even in the middle of a playoff race, and this decision was probably a lot easier than it looks on paper.
There’s no way around saying that the Flames are and have been a complete buzzsaw of late, with a franchise-record 10 straight victories, including a shootout win over the defending Stanley Cup winning Penguins on Monday night. They’re one of just a few teams that have been hotter than the B’s since Feb. 7 (when they B’s replaced Claude Julien with Cassidy), as the Flames are 12-1-1 compared to the B’s 11-3-0 mark over that span. And the Flames have doubled up their opponents of late, having outscored their opponents 37-to-18 over the course of their current win streak. Start Rask instead of Khudobin tonight and you’re talking about throwing Khudobin in against an Edmonton offense that’s scored the 12th-most goals in the NHL.
So, it appears Khudobin and the Bruins are up against it tonight in Calgary.
And the 30-year-old’s last performance — a 15-of-17 win against the Devils on Mar. 4 — looks far from inspiring.
But Cassidy looked beyond the seemingly ugly two goals on 17 shots stat line.
“His game was good. At the end of the day, they were high-end chances that they scored on,” Cassidy said of Khudobin in his postgame availability back on Mar. 4. “He did his job, you know, he hung in there, he made saves when he had to and he got the win for it so I’m sure he’s happy. It was a tough first half of the year for him and he’s kind of found his game here a little bit and we’ve talked about it – it’s well documented. We need him, we need him to be good, give us a chance to win.”
Khudobin also started the B’s last head-to-head against the Flames, and made 27 stops in a 2-1 Black Friday loss.
With Brian Elliott under the weather, Chad Johnson gets the start opposite Khudobin.
Johnson put together a 35-of-36 night against the Bruins in his last start against his former club, and enters play with 18 wins and a .913 save percentage in 33 games this season.
The Bruins have not won in Calgary since Dec. 2013, and have two just two wins in nine games in Calgary since 1999.