by Bob Morello
Bruins begin Cup chase
Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney met with the media earlier this week at Warrior Ice Arena to share his thoughts on the playoff series scheduled to begin tonight (Thursday), with the Bruins facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one of a best-of-seven playoff. Game 2 will be played on Saturday at 8pm.
Sweeney wasted little time in dispelling the team’s poor showing, having lost four of their final five games, and the opportunity to earn the top spot in the Atlantic Division – and home ice advantage. Obvious was the lack of scoring from Boston’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. When posed the question, Sweeney responded with confidence, “Well, we won 50 games, and I think the body of work speaks that this team deserves to be where we are, and we focus on Thursday night.” He went on to explain that management is well aware of any current problem areas, and that they are working to clean them up as they focus on tonight’s opening game. Look for the Bergeron line to respond positively, with a strong bounce back.
His response to the team’s expectations prompted a resounding, “We want to win. We’ve put ourselves in a position with 15 other teams. We deserve to be here, and hopefully we can continue to move forward. You’ve got to play your best hockey. The opponent wants to win as badly as you do, so you’ve got to go out and put forth your best effort to try and get it done, and generally, over the course of seven games, the better team wins.”
One main factor will be the return of injured players. Rick Nash, acquired prior to the trade deadline will finally get back into the lineup, as he and Sean Kuraly have been practicing with the team. To date, Rick Nash has only played 11 games since coming to Boston and skating on David Krejci’s line (3 goals/3assists). Ryan Donato may be a healthy scratch due to the return of Nash and Kuraly. Still in question will be the possible return of Riley Nash who has been skating for a few days now. Coach Bruce Cassidy while penciling in his defensive pairings will have to make a decision on choosing his sixth defenseman, between Nick Holden and Adam McQuaid. The steady play of Matt Grzelcyk has earned himself a spot for sure. Sorely missed will be Brandon Carlo who is lost for the entire playoffs, with an expected four to six months recovery period.
Looking back at the moves made at the trade deadline, Sweeney had a well-deserved tone of satisfaction in his answer. “Our goal was to deepen our team; I think we did do that. We tested our depth coming down the stretch. We knew, with 17 games in March, 16 games or so in March, that we were going to have to probably utilize everybody. And, several players in Providence have certainly stepped up in that regard. I’d hope to not have to use everybody, for the fact that injuries would dictate that.”
Sweeney did not hold back when questioned about the job coach Cassidy has done, starting with “Smart hockey guy. I think our staff has done a very, very good job. I’m proud of how they work together. Obviously, Bruce sets the tone of how we want to play, and they work well together to get the most out of our players and have them respond. As I said, 50 wins, I think it speaks to the job that they did and certainly, obviously, the players because they deserve the lion’s share of that credit.”
One of the main factors going into this playoff round with several young players will be how they respond to the pressure, and how the guidance and help of the veteran players might help them. Sweeney described the Maple Leafs as being a quality hockey club that plays with a lot of speed, and can score, so there’s no question that this matchup between two Original Six teams will be an interesting series.
It’s been five years since the Bruins stole the memorable 2013 first round series from the Leafs. In Game 7, with less than ten minutes to play, the Bruins trailed 4-1, when Boston’s Nathan Horton scored to cut the margin to 4-2. Milan Lucic tallied with 1:22 to play, cutting the margin to 4-3. Tuukka Rask was pulled from the Boston goal for the sixth attacker, when Patrice Bergeron (who else?) tied the game 4-4, with just 51 ticks left on the clock. At 6:05 of the overtime period, Bergeron deposited the game-winning goal, making the Bs the first team in the history of the NHL to win a Game 7 after falling three goals behind in the third period. Just remember, this was before the Maple Leafs made Mike Babcock their head coach, and added talented youngsters as Auston Mathews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner to their explosive roster.
Whatever the outcome in this series, which could likely run the full seven games, Sweeney has done a very commendable job with his picks, trades, and non-decisions at the trade deadline, to make this a very creative, entertaining 2017-18 Boston Bruins team. The full-schedule for the first-round.
Game 1: Thursday, April 12 at 7pm (TD Garden) – Game 2: Saturday, April 14 at 8 pm (TD Garden) – Game 3: Monday, April 16 at 7 pm (Air Canada Centre) – Game 4: Thursday, April 19 at 7 pm (Air Canada Centre) – Game 5: Saturday April 21 at TBD (TD Garden) – TBD – Game 6: Monday, April 23 at TBD (Air Canada Centre) – TBD
Game 7: Wednesday, April 25 at TBD (TD Garden) – TBD
Humboldt Broncos: The Boston Bruins and the Boston Bruins Foundation have two fundraising initiatives currently underway to help support those affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. The first initiative is an online raffle for an entire suite for Game 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting bruinsraffles.org. In addition, the Boston Bruins Foundation will be hosting the 50/50 raffle on Thursday night’s game vs. Toronto. All proceeds raised from the Super 50/50 Jackpot at Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday, April 12 will be donated to support the Humboldt Broncos community. The winner is guaranteed to win at least $25,000. The raffle is live online and fans can purchase raffle tickets by visiting bruins5050.org (Please note in order to purchase tickets online, fans must be physically in the state of Massachusetts at the time of purchase). The Boston Bruins and Boston Bruins Foundation have pledged to donate a minimum of $50,000 to the Humboldt community through these efforts. The Humboldt GoFundMe page has already brought in more than $8 million in less than a week.
CHS girls track defeats two foes
The Chelsea High girls track team opened its season in smashing fashion this past week with a pair of runaway victories over Greater Lawrence (113-34) and Notre Dame Academy (101-34) in a tri-meet.
Leading the way for the Lady Red Devils were their star performers, Stephanie Simon, Martine Simon, and Jocelyn Poste, who accounted for over 20 points each in the two meets.
“They really helped start off the season right for us,” said CHS head coach Mark Martineau.
Other first-place winners for the girls were Yarid Deras, Karina Avalos, Ana Chang, Masireh Ceesay, and Xiana Herasme.
“There is no doubt that the girls’ team is looking really strong this year,” added Martineau. “In just the first meet of the year, Masireh, Martine, and Stephanie all qualified for the Division 1 state meet.”
On the boys’ side, a short-handed Red Devil squad came up just shy in its meet with Greater Lawrence, falling by a slim two-point margin, 67-65.
Jose Leclerc picked up where he left off in the indoor season, continuing to lead the way for this team. Jose won both the 800 and two-mile events.
Important first-place winners for Chelsea were Jazmany Reyes, Luqman Shariff, Kelvin Diaz, Tony Bui, and Rigo Flores. There was also an impactful sweep in the mile.
The race almost ended up coming down to the 4 x 400 relay race. Although Chelsea won the five points, it still wasn’t enough to win the meet.
“There was disappointment throughout the team at the end of the meet, but the team promised each other, the coaches, and themselves, that this would not happen again,” said Martineau. “With that said, we should be looking forward to a strong, aggressive boys’ team this year too.”