Matt Grzelcyk

Local boy Charlie Coyle has found a home with Bruins

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Charlie Coyle had learned to deal with hearing his name in trade rumors. So when Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton called him in February and told him he had been traded, it wasn’t too big of a surprise.

The only surprise was that Fenton was unable to tell him where exactly he had been traded. The GM rushed to call Coyle so he didn’t get on a plane with his Wild teammates as they were set to depart on a two-game road trip to New York and Detroit.

“[I]t was a weird moment where I didn’t know I was being traded and I wasn’t on a team,” Coyle told NBC last week. “I didn’t know what team I was on for a couple hours. When I found out it was Boston I was pretty happy.”

After spending parts of seven seasons with the Wild, Coyle was coming home. The East Weymouth, Mass. native and Boston University alum played his youth hockey in the area and even led his high school team to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association finals, which took place TD Garden, home of the Bruins, during his freshman year.

Growing up, Coyle had those same dreams that every hockey player in Massachusetts does: winning the Stanley Cup in a Bruins jersey.

“You think about it now, it gets closer and closer and you are that much closer to doing it,” he said. “You know, headed into the third round here, it’s become a reality. There is still a long way to go, but yeah, you go to bed every night and your mind wanders and that is where it wanders to, mostly to just thinking about what it is going to be like and just envisioning that. I think that helps.”

Now Coyle was entering a room full of idols, including players like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, whom he watched as they won the 2011 Stanley Cup. But there was no time to think about that; he had to get to Las Vegas to meet his new teammates to enjoy an off day.

“I think as you get older you learn to just focus on the task at hand,” Coyle said. “You know, I can’t be in awe of you, I have to make sure I do my part here. I think when you’re younger you get that more and as you get older, more experience and more comfortable in this league, it kind of dies down. You just play. They are your teammates now and you are both fighting for the same thing and you both need each other on the same page, but they help out a lot.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Coyle got off to a slow start with the Bruins. He scored only twice in 21 games following the trade and was playing nearly a minute less than during his time in Minnesota. But in the postseason, the 27-year-old has found his groove. During their Round 1 series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored three times and recorded four points. He opened Round 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in fashion with a pair of goals, including the game winner, during a 3-2 victory in Game 1. 

While another local boy, Matt Grzelcyk of Charlestown, Mass., starred in the Bruins’ win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes, Coyle also made an impact with three assists.

Through 15 games in the 2019 postseason, Coyle is tied for fifth in scoring among all players with six goals and 12 points. His six goals are tied for first on the Bruins and he’s tied for second on team in points behind David Pastrnak‘s 15.

Coyle has become an integral part of the Bruins’ secondary scoring, which has helped put them two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Following the February trade, it didn’t take his teammates long to figure out that his skillset would be a welcomed addition.

“He’s a big guy, strong powerful forward who is not easy to play against,” said Chara. “Having him as a hometown player gives us kind of a boost because those types of players who are playing for their hometowns are always welcome.”

“I feel very fortunate to be in this position and playing for such a great organization,” Coyle said. “Then you throw on top of it being from here and growing up and going to these games and wonder what it would be like playing with the spoked B on one day.  So you throw all that in with my family being here and coming to more games, seeing me play live… I think just in life you want to be close to your family, spend as much time with your family as possible. For me, to do what I love every day and get to see them, they are right down the street pretty much, you can’t ask for much better.”

MORE:
• Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• Hurricanes/Bruins series preview
• PHT Conference Finals predictions

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Playoff Buzzer: Bruins blast Hurricanes in Game 2

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  • Ouch. Look, every now and then, a game just gets away from you, even during the playoffs. It’s happened before for the Hurricanes, and Carolina found a way to win their Round 1 series against the Capitals, anyway. They’ll need to channel those emotions, as the Bruins absolutely stomped the Hurricanes in Game 2 on Sunday.

Bruins 6, Hurricanes 2 (Boston leads series 2-0; Game 3 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; stream here).

After running away with Game 1 thanks to a four-goal third period, the Bruins duplicated that success when it mattered during Game 2. Boston scored two goals in each of the three periods to take a 6-0 lead, coughing up those two late goals when the two teams were basically killing time. Granted, the Hurricanes probably felt some relief by scoring a couple goals against Tuukka Rask, including a blunder by Rask on the second tally. From special teams to even-strength play to goaltending, the Hurricanes have a ton of work to do as the scene changes to Carolina for Games 3 and 4.

That one save

Game 2 was brutal for Petr Mrazek. It’s fair to wonder if Rod Brind’Amour should have replaced Mrazek for Curtis McElhinney heading into the third period, and it’s equally fair to ask if McElhinney should be the Game 3 starter. Yet, as bad as things were … at least Mrazek made this save.

Three Stars

1. Matt Grzelcyk

It could have been a short Game 2 for Grzelcyk, considering how hard that Micheal Ferland hit looked.

Instead, the blueliner enjoyed a standout afternoon, generating two of the Bruins’ first four goals (when the game was still reasonably competitive). That included the 1-0 icebreaker, an ugly-looking thing that Mrazek surely wishes he could have back.

Along with scoring two important goals, Grzelcyk logged 18:21 time on ice, delivered two hits, and blocked two shots. At this rate, people might not even feel anxious about misspelling his last name.

2. Charlie Coyle

Consider this the combined Charlie Coyle – Marcus Johansson entry.

Johansson’s work caught the eye in a more prominent way, as he did most of the work to make the 1-0 goal happen, and both of his points were primary assists.

Coyle deserves a mention, too, and he actually had one more point (three assists to Johansson’s two). It was a subtly effective all-around Game 2 for Coyle, as he enjoyed a +3 rating, went 12-3 on faceoffs, registered one hit, and one SOG in a modest 14:02 TOI.

The headlines (and amusing Dunkin’ Donuts commercials) go to Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, but the Coyle – Johansson duo is really starting to click for Boston, allowing them to win games even when the top trio is being held in check. Carolina needs to find answers quickly, or the Bruins will go through them faster than Pastrnak polishes off a cold brew.

3. Torey Krug

With it being a relatively light day at the office for Tuukka Rask (two goals allowed on 23 shots, including a funky giveaway by Rask), it seems fairer to stick with skaters for the top three.

Krug had a strong Game 2, generating three assists. Two of Krug’s assists happened on Boston’s power-play goals, which occurred when the game was still on respectable street (the 4-0 stretch through the first 40 minutes).

Those three assists give Krug 11 points in 15 playoff games, tying Krug with Jaccob Slavin and Alex Pietrangelo for third place in scoring among defensemen. Krug is one point away from matching his career high of 12 postseason points, a mark he set during last year’s postseason.

Factoids

  • With Connor Clifton scoring his first career NHL goal, the Bruins have received at least one goal from 19 different players during their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs run. That ties the Bruins’ franchise record for a single postseason, as Boston saw 19 players find the net in 1988.
  • As Capitals fans would like to forget, the Hurricanes have already come back from a 2-0 deficit, doing so in Round 1. They’re hoping to just be the third team to successfully fight back from 2-0 deficits during the same postseason. On the bright side, this parity-filled age is responsible for the two teams who’ve done it: the Bruins in 2011 and the Penguins in 2009.
  • The Bruins scoring 10 consecutive goals marks the fourth-best playoff run in team history. The best stretch was 18 consecutive goals, which they managed in 1969.

Monday’s game

Game 2: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks (San Jose leads 1-0); 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN; stream here.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins dominate Hurricanes for 2-0 series lead

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The Boston Bruins weren’t exactly nurturing during a 6-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead on Mothers’ Day.

Controversy swirled around penalty calls that helped the Bruins turn Game 1 on its head, but there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in Game 2 beyond “should Rod Brind’Amour replace Petr Mrazek or keep Curtis McElhinney on the bench?” Yes, it was that kind of afternoon for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Honestly, that 6-2 score feels generous to Carolina, as both of the Hurricanes’ goals were of the late, “garbage” variety. Consider how dizzying the last four periods had been for Mrazek and the Carolina Hurricanes, aside from a faint push to save some face.

  • Heading into the third period of Game 1, the Hurricanes were up 2-1.
  • The Bruins scored all four goals of that third period to win Game 1 by a score of 5-2.
  • Things were close for most of the first period of Game 2, but then Boston fired in two quick goals.
  • The B’s fattened that lead to 4-0 through the second period, making a dazzling Mrazek stick save feel like a footnote.
  • Brind’Amour stuck with Mrazek in the third period, to some surprise. Things … well, didn’t get much better from there. The Bruins pushed things to 6-0 before allowing two goals when things were clearly out of reach.

Frankly, it would be more comforting for Carolina if the Hurricanes could merely blame everything on Mrazek. While he would regret some of the goals allowed – particularly the first of two by Matt Grzelcyk, and the first of Connor Clifton‘s career – the Hurricanes aren’t down 2-0 in this series because of leaky goaltending alone.

Carolina must address some key issues as Game 3 approaches on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN; stream here).

For one thing, the Bruins are absolutely dominating the special teams battle, to a greater extreme than expected.

Carrying over the momentum from scoring two power-play goals during that four-goal third period from Game 1, the Bruins went 2-for-2 on the power play in Game 2. Those power-play goals happened when the contest was still in doubt, really cementing the thought that the Bruins hold a significant advantage when it comes to the man advantage.

Failing on the penalty kill was rough enough for Carolina, yet the Hurricanes’ power play has been sputtering. They went 0-for-4 in Game 2, and in a telling moment, Patrice Bergeron set up Danton Heinen‘s goal shortly after leaving the penalty box on a failed Hurricanes power play.

Maybe the Hurricanes will gain a little bit of confidence from gaining two late goals in Game 2, even if they were generally inconsequential. If nothing else, the Hurricanes finally halted a dominant run for the Bruins, as Boston had scored 10 consecutive goals from the third period of Game 1 through much of Game 2.

Aside from that outburst in garbage time, the Hurricanes need to prove they can regularly threaten Tuukka Rask and the Bruins. The special teams battle needs to at least be closer to a draw, rather than the one-sided drubbing we’ve seen so far. And, yes, the Hurricanes must get some more saves — whether it’s Mrazek stopping those pucks, or if Carolina turns to Curtis McElhinney.

The Hurricanes found themselves down 2-0 against the defending champion Washington Capitals in Round 1, only to turn things around in front of rabid home fans to eventually win that series in seven games. In fact, the Hurricanes haven’t lost a home playoff game during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so expect a far better effort from Carolina against Boston in Game 3 on Tuesday.

The frustrating and comforting thought is that Carolina hasn’t been anywhere near its best so far during the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, and it’s shown on the scoreboard.

Carolina doesn’t have a long time to figure things out, however, as the Bruins are looking almost unstoppable in Round 3.

The Hurricanes host the Bruins in Game 3 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN; stream here).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Mrazek is having lousy Game 2, but check out this stick save

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So far, Game 2 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final hasn’t exactly been kind to Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek.

The Hurricanes enter the second intermission down 4-0 after some mistakes by Petr Mrazek. The Boston Bruins’ 1-0 goal was one that Mrazek will find especially tough to stomach, as he was beaten from an odd angle by defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. The lowlight might have happened during the second period, as Mrazek appeared to be too aggressive trying to make an initial save, opening the door for Connor Clifton to score his first NHL goal (playoff or otherwise) on an essentially empty net.

Many expected Curtis McElhinney to draw in during the third period, but Rod Brind’Amour stuck with Mrazek. It didn’t really turn around, as Boston padded its lead before ultimately winning 6-2.

So, things haven’t gone so smoothly for Mrazek, particularly in Game 2, and generally since returning to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs following an injury during the Round 2 series against the Islanders.

But even a slumping goalie can author a great moment. Mrazek made a remarkable save during the second period, possibly thanks in part to the aggressiveness that can maybe put him in a bad position every now and then. Check out that highlight reel save in the video above this post’s headline, particularly if you’re a Hurricanes fan who needs reassurance that Mrazek can come up with big stops here and there.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins’ Grzelcyk scores after taking huge hit in Game 2

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When Matt Grzelcyk made it 1-0 for the Bruins during the first period of Game 2 against the Hurricanes on Sunday (airing on NBC; Stream here), it was surprising for more than one reason.

For one thing, it was a goal Petr Mrazek will surely regret. Marcus Johansson made some great moves to set up the play, but Mrazek really cannot let a goal like that squeak through, not from that angle. You can see that goal in the video above this post’s headline.

It was also a little surprising because, frankly, it’s impressive Grzelcyk wasn’t feeling too many ill effects from an absolutely massive hit by big Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland. Grzelcyk didn’t seem to see Ferland coming, as the puck was lost in his skates, and Ferland delivered an absolutely thunderous hit on the Bruins defenseman. There seemed to be some head contact during the collision, but no penalty was called:

Ouch.

Maybe it wasn’t as painful as it looked, as Grzelcyk was able to give the Bruins that early lead, which Jake DeBrusk fattened to a 2-0 advantage minutes later. Carolina must show similar resilience in Game 2 if they want to avoid dropping to a 2-0 hole in this Round 3 series.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.