1/12 Bruins 3 – Maple Leafs 2
For the first time all season, the Boston Bruins have a healthy lineup on the ice with every projected starter from the beginning of the season. Not only that, but the Bruins have won 5 of their last 6 games heading into this matchup. Well you can make that 6 out of their last 7 and there may not be much slowing down by this team.
In last week’s recap I mentioned that this was going to be a challenging game for the B’s to win with Frederick Andersen likely to return from injury, however that did not happen. The Leafs held him out another game and started Michael Hutchinson. Now it wasn’t an easy win for the Bruins, but they did look very good in this game and bounced back in a big way from that loss to the Capitals. The main reason the Bruins took two points in this one was simply Tuukka Rask. He has been on fire in his last few games. In his last 3 games, all wins, he has saved 91 out of 94 shots including a shutout against Minnesota. I think it is safe to say that Tuukka is locked in and was once again in this game as he saved 30 of 32 shots from one of the strongest offenses in the NHL.
Let’s get down to the game. It started in this one with Toronto coming out of the gate with a lot of speed and some great scoring chances, but Tuukka Rask was there to close the door on those chances. The Bruins had some strong team defense in the early stages as well. With just under two minutes to play in the first period, the Bruins would get on the board first with a David Krejci wrist shot of a great drop pass from the breakout.
In the second period things got very interesting as there were four combined goals. Toronto would even the game on a weird goal that I can’t really blame Tuukka for. There was some traffic in front of the net and the puck actually hit off Matt Grzelcyk and trickled through the legs of Rask. The Leafs would then take the lead when Mitch Marner fired a rocket slap shot from in close on Rask and just beat him. There’s no sugar coating it, not many goalies would have made that save it was an absolute rocket right past him.
From here it was all Bruins as they settled back into this game and not only tied the game but took the lead and didn’t look back. First it was Sean Kuraly who tied the game with a nice wrist shot from the slot. This guy has been playing so well, the whole line included, but especially Kuraly who played a part in all three of the Bruins goals in this game. Kuraly would then feed David Pastrnak with a great pass on a strong forecheck. This led to what would be the eventual game winning goal.
It was a solid team effort in this game with Sean Kuraly earing the first star and a massive two points heading the Bruins way as they chase the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division standings.
1/14 Bruins 2 – Canadiens 3 (OT)
What a tough, hard-fought game for both teams in this one. It was not only a rivalry game, but two of the hottest goalies in the NHL were facing off in Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. While both have been great, Carey Price was just a little bit better in this game. From the start Price was shutting down every great opportunity that the Bruins had. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had a two on none breakaway which 9 times out of 10 would result in a goal, but this just happened to be the tenth time.
Eventually a team broke through on the score sheet and in fact it was the Bruins. With just under 6 minutes to play in the first period, Brad Marchand scored on an absolute snipe during 4-on4 play. Patrice Bergeron set him up with a pass over to the left circle where Marchy was able to beat Price on the glove side.
The B’s couldn’t carry their lead into the locker room though as they allowed Montreal to get on the board after a shot from the point was tipped in past Rask who really didn’t have a chance. From here things only got worse as they allowed another goal and this time it was shorthanded for the 10th time this year. As great as the Bruins power play is, they really have struggled defending when they have a man advantage. It’s crazy they have allowed this many and what’s crazier is they’re tied with Pittsburgh for most shorthanded goals allowed in the NHL. I say that’s crazier because I never thought that Pittsburgh would allow that many. Two of the best power plays in the league, both can’t get it done defensively in power play situations.
The Bruins entered the third period down a goal and had many, many opportunities to tie the game but just couldn’t solve Price, until they did. With 38 seconds left in regulation and the Bruins on the power play, David Krejci tied the game and forced overtime with a snipe of his own from just inside the blue line as Price had to fight through the screens to find the puck, but couldn’t get his blocker on the puck in time.
Just like that, the Bruins were able to snag a point out of a game they looked out of for some time. Once Krejci scored to tie the game, momentum was clearly going to be on the Bruins side heading into overtime right? Wrong. The Canadiens ended the game as soon as they could. It took them a measly 15 seconds to end the game. As defeating as that loss was to the spirits of the Bruins, coach Bruce Cassidy was happy with the way the B’s fought back and tied the game late. However, he was not happy with overtime, clearly. With everyone back healthy (for now) things will look up for the Bruins. As we head closer to the all-star break, the Bruins just have to maintain a playoff spot and rest up with the much needed time off and come out hot for the final stretch of the season.
1/16 Bruins 3 – Flyers 4
It doesn’t really get much lower than losing to the Philadelphia Flyers this season. They have the third fewest points in the NHL and set a record for the most amount of goalies used in a season. Goaltending has been their main weakness all season long and teams have been putting up crooked numbers almost every game. That being said, the Bruins jumped out in front of the Flyers in this game and it looked like they were going to steam roll them.
David Pastrnak opened the scoring for the Bruins and it was on the power play that he got it done. He scored his league leading 13th power play goal, setting a career high for him in that category after having 12, last season. Pasta has really improved his one timer and it is closing in on being nearly as good as the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. I can’t say that it’s just as good, but he is leading in power play goals and most of those goals have been from a one-timer.
Things got even better for the Bruins as they upped the lead to 2 when the new call up got on the board. Peter Cehlarik got his first goal of the season and only the second of his career. Shortly after the goal the Flyers would get a really great scoring chance after some tic-tac-toe passing, but Jaroslav Halak got his leg in front of the shot for an incredible save.
From here, it was mostly all downhill for the Bruins. With just over seven minutes to play in the first period, the Flyers would get on the board and take some momentum away from the B’s. The Flyers would double down and tie the game just over five minutes into the second period and they weren’t done there as they got on the board again only a minute later.
Late in the third period the Bruins would get one of the goals back when Peter Cehlarik got his second goal of the game. After a long stint in Providence to keep working on his development, it seems that Cehlarik has found the NHL pace you need to play at. This could be really big for the Bruins if he could contribute on a consistent basis on the second line which desperately needs another winger that will put up points. It’s still very early to tell being one game and all, but he can build on a great game and really help the Bruins make a run come playoff time.
1/17 Bruins 5 – Blues 2
As the St. Louis Blues arrive in Boston to take on the Bruins, the B’s are looking for a bounce back win after dropping their last two games. After a scoreless first period which seemed more like the early stages of a Floyd Mayweather fight, just feeling each other out, the Bruins broke through with a Torey Krug goal.
The Blues would then answer not once but twice on Tuukka Rask to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the bad guys. It would not hold up though as David Backes would tie the game on the power play very late in the second, just before intermission. Zdeno Chara got some rare power play time as the penalty was close to expiring, and he fired a slap shot that went right at a screening Backes. He was able to get a tip on the puck as he was falling over and got on the board against his former team where he spent many years as the captain.
This was a big goal for David Backes who hasn’t been playing his best hockey this season. In fact in the game against the Flyers, he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career. Some guys would be selfish and angry that they got scratched, but Backes understood and came out tonight playing harder than I have seen from him in some time. At first I was unsure about scratching him, but it appears for the time being that he got the message Bruce Cassidy was trying to send him.
As the third period got under way, the Bruins came out hard with a few good scoring chances right away. They broke the tie only about 6 minutes into the period as Chris Wagner scored on somewhat of a breakaway. He also shot the puck basically from his knees as he was falling over himself. This is the first time I have seen back to back goals scored by guys that were falling.
Brad Marchand got involved in the scoring with just under seven minutes to play in regulation to increase the Bruins lead 4-2. Shortly after his goal he would get another opportunity to score when Patrice Bergeron found him with a pass across the goal front and Marchand rang it off the post with a missile of a shot.
As the Blues would try to fight back and get back into the game, Sean Kuraly buried one into the empty net for the three goal lead and secured two points for the Bruins. This was a great win for the Bruins who slowed down a Blues team that came into the night having won 3 of their last 4 games.
Tuukka Rask came away with the win and improved his record to 6-0-1 in his last seven games. He also made some history with the win in this game as he now is tied for the lead with Tiny Thompson for most wins as a goalie in Boston Bruins history with 252 career wins with the team. He has been locked in and will look to keep this streak going into their final game before the All-Star break when they face the New York Rangers in their next game.
The Week Ahead
Next week will be a very short week for the Bruins as they only have one game. On Saturday the Bruins will host the New York Rangers for the last game before the All-Star break. That game will be a 7pm game. Then the Bruins get some much needed rest, except for David Pastrnak who will be playing in his first career All-Star game which is much deserved. You can check in here again next week to see how Pasta does in the festivities of All-Star weekend.
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