Rangers Fourth Line Revived With Whale Help

Back to the Garden for game five! Why not win it on home ice boys?

That would be nice, especially after the downfall of the Providence Bruins. They lost during game seven after being up 3-0 going into game four. The good news for the Boston Bruins is that we have the PBruins best defense, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski.

Krug of course who managed to net a goal.

Game three was all about Merlot. They walked all over Brad Richards, and the Rangers’ fourth line showed weak attempts to fight against the likes of Paille, Campbell, and Thornton. That all changed in game four with the addition of forwards Micheal Haley, and Kris Newbury. These AHL players had something to prove, and much like the outstanding work of Krug and Bartkowski they weren’t going to let the Rangers down.

So, I suppose spending fall semester tracking the Connecticut Whale paid off. With the Rangers calling up from their farm team for game four I found myself prepared and excited to see these players getting post-season opportunities. I’m not surprised that they helped the Blueshirts on Thursday night, as the two played big roles during the Whale’s season.

Haley was perfect to pull up to the lacking fourth line. This enforcer was new to the Whale this season; his five previous seasons were spent fighting on the Islanders. Haley racked up 170 penalty minutes, ten goals, and thirteen assists in 69 games with the Whale.

Game four wasn’t his first time up with the Rangers as Haley was called up in the beginning of March where he played nine regular season games. Torts must have liked what Haley had to offer, for when the Whale missed out on a post season, Haley was quickly added to the Rangers’ roster and made the journey to Washington with the team.

Toward the end of the Whale’s season, Haley found himself on the scoring line. Paired with center Kelsey Tessier and Christian Thomas, this line was affectionately dubbed the “Smurf” line as Haley stood the tallest at 5’10. In their first weekend together the line managed five of 11 goals against the St John’s IceCaps. Haley is able to hold his own in a fight, and plays smart with the puck. Just what the Rangers needed to counter the Bruins fourth line.

“You could put me against anybody and I’m going to do the same things… I’ve got one train of thought… Hittin’ and bangin’ and skatin’ hard.” Reported Haley when questioned about facing the Washington Capitals, guess not much changed when it came to facing the Bruins.

As for the AHL vet Kris Newbury, he made an appearance in the Rangers game one against the Washington Capitals this post-season. I really mean appearance, with only five minutes of ice time. This season with the Whale, Newbury scored 20 goals, had 42 assists and 127 penalty minutes in 70 games. Newbury was second on the Whale with goals, Brandon Segal holding first. Newbury was traded to the NYR organization in 2010 and has seen a handful of regular season games with the Rangers.

They also played Roman Hamrlik in place if the injured Stralman. Hamrlik was acquired from the Washington Capitals this season, and if his name sounds familiar it is because he played in all seven games against the Bruins last year in the playoffs. This was his first game back after playing for only 4minutes back on April first, 2013. He only played sixteen games this half-season and had only an assist and eight penalty minutes.

The Rangers played their best game of the series Thursday night. The Bruins need to get refocused, and play the full 60minutes during game five. The second Rangers goal was painful to watch, with Chara lollygagging behind the net. Sure Rask could have been ready for it, but I’m finding it hard to blame Rask who put faith in his Captain to get the puck out of their zone.

Anyway I guess I really just wanted an excuse to write about Micheal Haley.

Fingers crossed for game five!




Never Underestimate your Opponent

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in these quarter finals matchups, is that anything can happen. Seriously, anything. The Wild and the Islanders are putting up the biggest fight against the Blackhawks and Penguins respectfully. Also the Leafs, the Toronto Maple Leafs, beat the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. How? Phil Kessel even managed to score Saturday night after not even having a shot on net until the third period of Game one. Talk about frustrating.

Granted, it might just be my luck, I knew I shouldn’t have made a bracket. If I get anything right I will be more than surprised.

This even counts for the AHL. Even the Providence Bruins lost their first two games against the Hershey Bears who were eighth seed, to Providence’s first. Just in this last weekend Providence managed to have a fantastic comeback, 5-1 on Saturday, and 5-4 today. Unlike the NHL these teams only have to win three games, making Wednesday Night’s game five one to see.

Back to the NHL boys. I don’t know what it is about the Bruins. They manage to underestimate their opponent when they feel they can be cocky. Saturday’s game is a perfect example. Toronto came to play and Boston thought they were going to ride a sweep. I knew Toronto wasn’t going to let their first playoff stint since 05 be a sweep, there’s no way they are going to go down without a fight. Now that we are headed into Leaf territory the boys should be more focused now than ever.

Joe Haggerty hassled Dennis Seidenberg about how they came out in game one and managed to flip a switch from how they were playing towards the end of the season. Apparently they were jesting too soon. We can only wait for Game 3 Monday night to see if the Bruins boys show up to play or if they’ll struggle through this round.

I’ll be with you throughout the playoffs so keep it here on Back to Black and Gold!

Go B’s!

Providence Goalie Shows Great Potential

While the Boston Bruins slid into second place in the conference this afternoon, beating Florida 3-0, their AHL affiliate has been sitting pretty at number 1 over all of the AHL since Friday.

The Providence Journal spelled out the stats, “With the win [Friday night], Providence clinched first place in the Eastern Conference with 101 points with two games remaining. Second-place Springfield has 97 with one game left. A loss by Texas late last night would clinch first place overall for Providence for the first time since 2007-08.”

The PBruins can thank their outstanding goaltender, Niklas Svedberg, for their turnaround success. Svedberg played in the AHL All-Star game, and was just named to the First Team AHL All-Star. (This really pissed off a Springfield Falcon fan who decided to take it out on me last weekend. Sorry not sorry sir.)

@AHLBruins: Niklas Svedberg with all six of his awards he received at today’s pre-game ceremony

Svedberg won four AHL awards, and an additional two from the Providence organization. From the AHL he received awards for being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, named to the First All-Star Team, being the AHL Player of the month (March), and receiving the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award. From Providence he was awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.

The Bastien Award honors the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position, as voted by league coaches, media and players.

“It’s a great honor. It proves you’re doing something right,” said the 23-year-old from Sweden. “When you get an award like this, it’s not just yourself. It’s because of my teammates. I’m grateful, but I’ve got to stay focused and keep working hard every day. There’s always the next game. We have the playoffs coming up, which is the most important time,” Svedberg told the Providence Journal.

The AHL summed up Svedberg’s season and reflected his stats as follows.

“Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Svedberg is 36-8-2 in 47 appearances for the Bruins, helping them to the Atlantic Division title and the best record in the AHL. His 36 wins rank second in the league this season and are the second-most by a rookie in the 77-year history of the AHL. Svedberg also ranks sixth with a 2.15 goals-against average and fourth with a .925 save percentage, allowing two goals or fewer in 34 of his 47 outings while posting four shutouts. Svedberg has a record of 24-2-1 over his last 27 starts since Jan. 4, including a 10-game winning streak from Jan. 20 to Feb. 22.” There is also a highlight reel at the end of their article here.

With many Boston Bruins fans unhappy with the current goaltending, there has been talk of pulling up this rookie to see if he has NHL potential. We could see a breakout performance from him like that of Braden Holtby during the Washington Capitals 2012 playoff run.

I would much rather see Svedberg in our net than Malcolm Subban. Nothing against the latter, budding goaltender, but your brother is a grade A pain in the neck. Granted, this could give him the motivation to show everyone in Boston that he isn’t his brother, and blow us all out of the water. I’d be okay with that.

Anyway, all the best for Svedberg! I know I’ll be catching a few of the Calder Cup games, as the PBruins are now like a pet that I feel devoted to watch over. Poor them, hah!

Go B’s! (Both of them!)


Borrowing Baby Bruins

During the long three month stretch between the should have been October start date, and the finally happening January 19th start date, my roommate and I found our fix of hockey in the AHL. And with that a pricey new hobby. Going to school in the West-Boonie area of Massachusetts, the Springfield Falcons were in our backyard. Their NHL affiliate is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Who? Precisely. That wasn’t going to happen. We turned of course to the Providence Bruins (And the Connecticut Whale, but that is neither here nor there, and not important.)

Providence was an easy choice, with familiar names such as Torey Krug, Jordan Caron, Carter Camper, Lane MacDermid, and Matt Bartkowski, who all stepped up during the end of the 2012 season for the Boston Bruins. With the start of this half season we are seeing a new wave of Providence faces filling up the Bruins bench.

Chris Bourque is most notable, having played ten of the Bruins 11 games so far, and for being the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Bourque this season has totaled one goal and one assist, the goal being a game-winner against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February second. He is filling the role of Benoit Pouliot on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. A spot that was considered for Jordan Caron, but given to Bourque on account of Caron being injured.

Lane MacDermid is a familiar face. He won over many Bruins fans last season when on his first shift, first game, he dropped the gloved against the Rangers’ Mike Rupp. Clearly his attitude hasn’t changed, having dropped the gloves twice in the Toronto game on the second.

Rounding out the Providence faces we’ve seen on the Bruins bench this season are two of Providence’s three top goal scorers, Jamie Tardiff and Ryan Spooner.

Tardiff leads Providence with 24 goals and 10 assists. This 28year old played his first NHL game in Toronto in that same February 2nd win over the Leafs.

Brad Marchand took an injury in that Toronto game, opening up a spot on the roster for Spooner to play on February 6th, 2012 against the team he grew up watching, the Montreal Canadiens. Spooner is tied for first at 34points with Tardiff in Providence with ten goals and 24 assists. Spooner also appeared in the Bruins development camp in 2012.

With the Bruins bench healthy again, that’s all I’ve got on the Providence boys playing in the big leagues. Providence is currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, and after what was a rocky start to their season its good to see they’ve found their legs.

Anyway, keep checking back for more, I’ll be here to keep you informed.