Bruins give "one of their better efforts," but still don't control their fate

Bruins give "one of their better efforts," but still don't control their fate

BOSTON – The Bruins had the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Detroit Red Wings circled for quite some.

It was the team they’ve been competing with in the Atlantic Division standings for that third divisional playoff spot, and it seemed like it might just become a winner-take-call showdown for the postseason. As it is, that won’t be the case with things coming down to the wire in the final game of the season for the Red Wings, Bruins and Flyers vying for two playoff spots, but the Bruins played with playoff-level urgency and intensity in the 5-2 win over the Wings at TD Garden.

It was one of Boston’s best efforts of the season considering the game’s importance, and the way they limited Detroit to a season-low 15 shots on net while barnstorming the Winged Wheels for five goals in victory.

“I think it was one of our obviously better efforts in quite a while. From start to finish the effort we put on at both ends of the ice, but also through the middle of the ice there - taking their speed away. Our guys really did a good job tonight,” said Claude Julien. “It’s important that we kind of bottle up that and bring the same kind of game here on Saturday. We want to give ourselves a chance. We’ve got to rely on some breaks here or there. We have to be focused and kind of bring that same kind of game to give ourselves the best chance possible.”

Unfortunately for the Bruins, things didn’t break too favorably for the Black and Gold on Thursday night. The Flyers and Wayne Simmonds scored a goal with less than a minute to go and the goalie pulled to get to overtime against the Maple Leafs, and give Philadelphia an extremely important point in an overtime defeat vs. Toronto.

What does that mean for the Bruins?

It means Boston must win their Saturday afternoon matinee in regulation against the Ottawa Senators to finish with 95 points, and then hope for some help from the Wings and Flyers. They either need Detroit to lose or win in the shootout only against the Rangers, or the Flyers to lose either one of their final two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. Those are the paths to the playoffs for the Black and Gold, and it’s the same uneasy feeling as last season when the B’s needed help from other teams to get into the top-8.

“It’s fun. Obviously you’d like to be in a different position where your playoff spot is secure, but like I said earlier before the game, you want to play in big games and important games and you want to be the guy that helps your team win. I think right now we have a lot of guys in this locker room that want to help out that way,” said Torey Krug, who helped out when he snapped a 54-game scoreless streak with a power play goal in the second period. “You just realize how important it is to have every single guy pulling their load and committed to the system and moving forward, we played great. But that game is over with and we have another big test, and we’ve got to just realize that and bring the same effort Saturday.”

The Bruins don’t control their own destiny at this point with a single game remaining in the season and they’ve been inconsistent enough that nobody can predict how they’ll respond against the Senators on Saturday afternoon. But the B’s also gave themselves a shot by taking care of business against a clearly heavy-legged Detroit team on the second night of a back-to-back situation, and that was all they could control on Thursday night.

No supplemental discipline for Schenn on Krejci hit

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No supplemental discipline for Schenn on Krejci hit

UPDATE: 1:10 P.M.: The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled that no supplemental discipline is needed for the Blues'  Brayden Schenn for the violent hit he delivered to the Bruins' David Krejci in the B's 2-1 overtime loss in St. Louis on Wednesday night. 

In the second period, Schenn clobbered David Krejci in the corner with a punishing hit to the head as the B’s playmaking center was facing him immediately after releasing the puck. Schenn was whistled for a two-minute minor for charging at the time of the collision, but luckily Krejci was able to remain in the game and played 15:54 of ice time in the loss.

Upon further review, it was very clearly a big, heavy hit delivered to Krejci’s head, but there were plenty of mitigating factors. Krejci had his head down until the last second while looking down at the puck on his stick and was hunched over as Schenn moved in to deliver a check on a player eligible to be hit. Schenn’s skates left the ice to finish the hit after impact, which made the collision look even worse to the casual observer, but that isn’t considered launching into a hit by the NHL’s standards.

Adding to the equation is that Schenn has been suspended twice by the NHL before, three games in 2016 for a charging hit on TJ Oshie and one game back in 2013.

Clearly, it’s a difficult call for the league as they try to deter hits to the head and reduce the number of concussions. Still, this would appear to be another situation where, as the league says, a player “assumed a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable." It’s absolutely similar to the Patrick Hornqvist/Charlie McAvoy hit from a few weeks ago that never ended up with any supplemental discipline for the Penguins hard-hitter despite plenty of hue and cry from the Bruins fans.

So what does everybody else think about this hit, and whether or not Schenn should be facing discipline from the NHL as a result of it?


Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.