Boston Bruins

It only took one game for Hampus Lindholm to feel the excitement of hockey season in Boston.

The former Ducks defenseman is now locked in for the long term with the Bruins, and he’s already remarking about the difference in overall atmosphere. Because no offense to Ducks fans or the city of Anaheim, but hockey is simply a much bigger deal in Boston. It just is. Always will be. And Lindholm felt that.

“This is not Anaheim,” Lindholm quipped as he entered the media room following the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden. It’s unclear what Lindholm was referring to, precisely, but it could’ve been just the whole experience. Louder fans, bigger media presence, higher energy.

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“I felt good. I love that feeling – little butterflies, little nervous getting out there, that’s why you play the game,” Lindholm said on his first time playing in Boston as a Bruin. “The fans here are unbelievable. You’ve got to say thank you for supporting [us] the whole game. It was so loud out there, it makes it more fun to play. Good to get the first game under your belt there. It was a huge win for us.”

This being a game against Tampa, Thursday night certainly had more of a playoff feel. And it felt like a playoff win for the Bruins, who jumped the Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings by a point.

Lindholm was a major factor in the victory. He assisted on David Pastrnak’s first of three goals with a crisp breakout pass, which came after he retrieved and protected the puck behind his own net. Here’s a key stat that should bode well for the Bruins defense going forward: they allowed only one high-danger scoring chance with Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy on the ice at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick.

The defenseman’s sheer size (6-foot-4) should make a big difference for a Bruins blue line that’s desperately needed it in their own end, but Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was also impressed by Lindholm’s play in traffic and in transition.

“I think he was actually maybe a better puck-mover in small areas than I anticipated,” Cassidy said. “I was thinking more about the size, the mobility, the ability to close plays, get his shot through on the offensive blue line, but he made a lot of small-area plays on the breakout that’s going to benefit this hockey club.”

Overall, it was an excellent first impression for Lindholm, and also a great job by the fans and the city in welcoming him.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

The Hampus Lindholm Effect jumps off the page for Bruins

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) picks up a hat after scoring a hat trick during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    David Pastrnak keeps Boston’s hat business booming

    The North Station pro shop will never have to worry about their hat sales so long as No. 88 is in town.

    On the board with his 12th career hat trick Thursday night, Pastrnak now sits in a tie with Johnny Bucyk for the third-most hat tricks in franchise history. Only Cam Neely (14) and Phil Esposito (26) have more. Given his scoring pace in recent seasons, Pastrnak could in theory make a push to challenge Esposito’s record so long as he spends his entire career with the Bruins. That’s just a ridiculous thing to say given Espo’s numbers with the Bruins.

    Oh, the three-goal effort also gives Pastrnak an NHL-leading 28 goals in 38 games since January 1.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Erik Haula (56) controls the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the first period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Erik Haula continues post-deadline surge for Bruins

    The Bruins did not make an upgrade to the middle of their second line by this past Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

    But that hasn’t stopped second-line center Erik Haula from playing like an upgrade, with five assists in two games since Monday’s deadline passed without an external addition to Boston’s center depth. This, of course, after going the previous six games with zero points and a minus-4 rating, along with a few in-game demotions.

    “When Erik is skating, he is at his most effective,” Cassidy said after the Black and Gold’s 40th victory of the season. “And between those guys [on the second line], you have to skate to keep up. But you also have to skate to reload if plays don’t work out, and he’s kind of bought into that. The last goal is a great example. He is working his way out of the zone knowing that there’s a rush maybe coming back. He stops on a puck and now we’re on offense again.”

    And for all the talk of the defensive competition, is Haula perhaps feeling an uptick in his own competitive fire with Jack Studnicka back in the NHL mix and actually looking pretty decent this time around as a more complete player?

    “Listen, guys go through stretches where they’re feeling it, and he’s feeling it right now,” said Cassidy.

    All competition is good competition for these Bruins.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) collides with Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Now presenting, the worst penalty you’ll see in 2022…

    I’m gonna need the biggest brain in the world to figure out how this was a tripping penalty on Jeremy Swayman.

    Hey, quick shoutout to Swayman for smiling and laughing about the call. I think I’d go full ’09 Providence Tuukka.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The Boston Bruins celebrate their win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Junk Drawer

    • Thursday’s win, by the way, has given the Bruins back-to-back victories against Tampa Bay. If it feels like it’s been a long-ass time since that’s happened, you’re not wrong. In fact, the last time the Bruins have a win streak of any sort against the Bolts was all the way back in 2017-18, when they carried a four-game win streak over Tampa Bay. With the win, the Bruins also jumped over the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic.

    • Defenseman Mike Reilly sat this game out of as a healthy scratch for the Bruins. The Bruins have said that if Reilly does play with Derek Forbort, it will be on the right side. And with Connor Clifton deployed for a defense-low 12:00 of time on ice, I don’t think we’re going to have to wait long to see that.

    • Weird stat: Blackhawk-turned-Lightning forward Brandon Hagel has been the scorer on three of the 12 goals given up by Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman over his last five starts.

    • Tremendous atmosphere at the Garden for this game. As someone who had tickets to the Drug Church show at Sonia, this decision went down to the wire, but gotta say, I think I chose correctly. It’s also my job, and I figured I ruin the lives of both Alex and Matt enough as is, so there’s that tricky little detail. (That said, check out their new album ‘Hygiene’ if you’re into post-hardcore and things of that nature. Can’t recommend it enough.)

    • Random Lightning player: Evgeny Artyukhin. Remember this dude? He was like 6-foot-5 and impossible to miss on some horrendous Tampa Bay teams. Bounced to Anaheim and Atlanta after his Lightning days.

    • Joe Haggerty was not wearing a Vegas Golden Knights facemask, but respect to David Pastrnak interrupting his question to ask if it was. It was a Mandalorian mask. “I’ve seen it all from you, Haggs,” Pastrnak said.


Dissecting what the Bruins did, and didn't do, at the deadline

  • VANCOUVER, BC – FEBRUARY 22: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on February 22, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    The most surprising news of the day: Jake DeBrusk’s two-year extension.

    If I had to guess, that two-year extension will take place somewhere else, but the fact that it happened and didn’t lead to a trade in the five hours between the announcement and trade deadline was a bit surprising. I mean, the second it went down, I started wondering where DeBrusk was going to land and how the Bruins were going to parlay the return into something more. It felt like an example of the market, which had been mostly down on DeBrusk all year, adjusting its prices in the B’s favor.

    Instead, the Bruins did it provide clarity and get back down to the basics with DeBrusk.

    “[We] sent a clear message to Jake and he sent one to us, that he just wants to play hockey,” Sweeney said of DeBrusk’s extension. “Bottom line is he knows he’s an important part if he plays to his capabilities, he’s going to help us and help himself.

    “The impact that he can have on our hockey club, we believe in.”

    The way I read this: The Bruins are more willing to ‘lose’ a DeBrusk trade in the summer when they’re not in the middle of surging up the Eastern Conference and relying on them to be a contributor on their top line. Without a direct replacement at their disposal — and I believe that the Bruins wanted a right-shot, natural right wing to slot at RW1 if DeBrusk was a goner — there was just too much risk in saying ‘we gotta be done with this just because’ when it came to DeBrusk.

    The Bruins also have to hope that delaying this split benefits them in some fashion. The No. 1 hope is that DeBrusk plays well and helps the team go on a run, develops some more consistency in his game. From there, DeBrusk would either want to stay (this one seems unlikely) or simply maximizes the return coming the B’s way. Another is that the market is less depressed now that DeBrusk’s cap hit for the next two years is known and there’s no icky qualifying offer on deck. Third, of course, is that everything remains the same and the Bruins have to bite the bullet on one of these offers that didn’t woo ’em the first time.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 02: Zach Senyshyn #19 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period of the preseason game against the New York Rangers at TD Garden. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Bruins did, however, honor one 2015 first-round pick’s trade request with the move that sent Zach Senyshyn to Ottawa.

    And just like that, the Bruins have officially closed the book on one chapter of their disastrous 2015 NHL Draft. A reach made with one scout believing that they had a sleeper on their hands, Senyshyn felt doomed from the start when the analysts outright said they didn’t even have him listed on their charts for the first round and scrambled for info. He didn’t do much to prove ’em wrong, as his development was a bit slower than the B’s would have liked and came with a near-constant injury interruption.

    Ultimately, I have no idea what kind of NHL player Senyshyn will be in Ottawa, if he’s an NHL player at all. (And if he can’t hack it for his hometown Sens, one of the neediest teams at right wing in all the land, I don’t think he’s going to get a chance to hack it anywhere else in this league.) I think he’s looked solid in his brief NHL samples, but again, the injuries haven’t helped.

    But I think, collectively, we can have one gripe about Senyshyn’s Boston tenure. For a team that has routinely played centers and left wings on the right side, it was weird to never see Senyshyn get an extended look just for the hell of it. I mean, he went unclaimed on waivers multiple times and had two straight training camps without even skating with NHLers. It was basically the definition of a ‘throw some crap at the wall and see what happens’ kind of option and it never really came to be.

    Just a bit odd, especially with a 2021-22 AHL campaign that came with a career-best 19 goals and 31 points through 51 games.

  • Jan 29, 2022; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Anaheim Ducks right wing Buddy Robinson (53) fights with Ottawa Senators defenseman Josh Brown (3) in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

    Mentioned it earlier, but you gotta like the Bruins’ move for Josh Brown for what it is.

    Without Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore out of the equation for the Bruins, Jack Ahcan became the B’s de facto No. 8 defenseman on the organizational depth chart. Now, the problem with that is the Bruins view the 5-foot-8 Ahcan as more of a specialist in the sense that if he’s playing, they’re going to want him opposite Brandon Carlo. They’d also to prefer to keep him on his natural left side. Not exactly a ‘throw him in’ option. So, if a slight rash of injuries came to the B’s blue line, you were talking about a defense featuring a Tyler Lewington, Kodie Curran or Nick Wolff as a lineup regular.

    Brown helps prevent that, even if it’s just by one extra body.

    A 6-foot-5, right-shot veteran of 165 career games between Florida and Ottawa, Brown posted a career-high 106 hits and 57 blocks through 46 games with the Sens this year, and brings a nasty element the Bruins could always use more of. (And if the name sounds familiar, Brown was the one who knocked Trent Frederic out of commission with a heavy hit early in the year.)

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 02: Jack Studnicka #23 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers during overtime of the preseason game at TD Garden on October 02, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    It may have been a weak deadline in terms of high-end talent on the move, but the forward depth pieces were there.

    From old friends like Marcus Johansson to Riley Nash, and other potentially intriguing options such as Zach Sanford and Vladdy Namestnikov, the Bruins could have found a palatable price to bring someone in if they truly wanted to.

    But it doesn’t sound like the Bruins really didn’t want to reconfigure a 12-forward group that’s finally operating as one.

    “We certainly addressed some things this summer that we needed to from a depth perspective,” Sweeney said. “It took some time for chemistry and pieces to fall into place. Obviously with Bruce making the change and Pastrnak moving down with Hall, it kind of reconfigured how we were playing as a group. You see with the third line has now gone and played together for a period of time and they have some chemistry and productivity going. It sort of allowed the pieces to slot in where we had hoped and envisioned. You just never know. Fourth line plays to their identity and we’ve had depth in that situation.

    “Bottom line is the war of attrition starts from now until when a Cup is presented. Staying healthy is a big part of that.”

    And if health isn’t part of the equation, the Bruins are going to have to rely on players like Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen up front. The Bruins deciding not to add a veteran depth forward confirms that these guys are indeed viewed as part of the equation for the Bruins, and their respective ‘rope’ should reflect that if this team is going to be as deep as they could be.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 09: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on November 09, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Oh, and one more nugget from the deadline: There’s been a lot of talk about Patrice Bergeron and doing right by him in what may very well be his final season. Count me in as part of that. (And I think the B’s aggressive-but-not-reckless approach reflected that.) And as it stands right now, nobody knows what Bergeron is going to do. Not even Sweeney.

    But Sweeney does think he has an idea what it will take to keep No. 37 on the ice for the future.

    “My job is to put together the best team I possibly can [and] I honestly believe that Patrice is playing at the top of his game. If he’s healthy and he looks around at his teammates and enjoys it, he’s going to want to play hockey,” Sweeney said. “That’s his decision, he’s the only one that can have a timeline on it. I’ve never asked him since he made his statement since the first of the year. I just take my cues from how he’s doing and how invested he is [and] he’s pretty invested. And I think he’s excited about adding a player to our hockey club like Hampus and the long term [future].

    “Hopefully it sends the right message. Not just to your club, but to one of the important players in the history of the organization.”

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