Bruins need to capitalize early on home ice


Bruins need to capitalize early on home ice

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Its tough to tell whether the Bruins' early season schedule is an advantage, or a path fraught with difficulty.

It was originally thought the Bs schedule for this season was an effort to counter-balance last years long-distance trip to the Czech Republic, and Boston would this season enjoy the home cooking consistent with playing 13 of its first 17 games at TD Garden.

It would make things easier for the Bruins over the first six weeks of the season, and there is an argument to be made that is true. The Bruins dont travel any further West than Chicago for any of the four road games during that six week span, and should have ample time to recover from the short, two-month offseason.

Its always nice to start off at home and kind of ease into the season a little bit, said Patrice Bergeron. Those are going to be some huge points. Putting together big point totals at home can help you quite a bit during the season, and put you in a good or bad position for the rest of the year.

Were aware that there are going to be home games that were not going to get at the end of the season. We need to take advantage of it.

Of course there is the opposite effect at the end of the season that Bergeron alluded to with the Bruins playing 11 of their final 19 games on the road, with a West Coast trip shoe-horned into the final few weeks of the regular season for good measure.

That should be a challenging trip through time zones as the Bruins are making preparations for a lush and long-lasting playoff run, but Bs management is really reserving opinion on what the schedule means for them.

This seasons schedule is really the reverse of so many for the Bruins in recent memory.

Normally the Black and Gold have embarked on a long road trip in the first few weeks of the season once the circus arrives at TD Garden, and that long road trip was always used as a team-bonding experience forging together any new elements to the squad.

That preseason team-bonding trip to clandestine New England spots has essentially taken the place of that long road trip, but there is truly something to be said for a long stretch away from home early in the season that forces hockey players to come together.

Its probably more than a coincidence that the last three Stanley Cup champions have all started the season as participants in the Premiere Games in Europe but that wont be the case for the Bs this season.

It seems if we had a lot of road games weve talked about that in the past being an advantage because youre able to bond, said general manager Peter Chiarelli. Thats certainly something weve discussed as a group. I dont think its a disadvantage. Its just the way the schedule sets out.

I think its just something that at the end of the year the latter third of the year and into the playoffs we were a really good home team. So you could look at it both ways.

As Chiarelli alluded to, theres also the simple fact that the Bruins struggled on home ice for the first half of last year and that it wasnt always rainbows and sunshine despite the 22-13-6 home ice record to end last season.

The Bs will need to shake off the hangover thoughts, burst out of the starting gate and dominate at home early in the season if they hope to make things easy on themselves in a year rife with challenges.

Theres no place like home, and thats truer this season for the Bruins than its ever been before.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens


Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 


David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens


David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak had been a little quiet offensively, but that all changed on Saturday night against Montreal. It was the 21-year-old that answered with a bad angle goal in the second period after Montreal had taken the first lead in the game, and it was Pastrnak again in the third period crashing the net and scoring his second goal to finally give Boston the breathing room that they needed. Pastrnak thoroughly dominated the game, scored two goals and three points along with a plus-3 rating, and led all players with a game-high eight shots on net while playing with energy and intensity in all three zones. It is nights like Saturday night in Montreal when you see just how good Pastrnak could still be a few years down the road.

BLACK EYE: Carey Price wasn’t terrible in the game, but he gave up the wrong goal at the wrong time to the Bruins in the second period. David Pastrnak surprised him with a bad angle shot by the goal line aimed at his skates, and Price couldn’t recover quickly enough to keep the puck from squirting into the net for the game-tying goal. Given how much better the Bruins are than the Canadiens this season, Price was going to be have to letter-perfect in order to beat the Black and Gold. Instead he gave up a bad goal just minutes after Montreal had finally scored, and completely sucked all of the momentum out of the Habs. A few minutes later Torey Krug beat Carey Price with a sniped shot for the go-ahead goal and that was it for the night. In all Price allowed three goals on 30 shots and had one of his weaker games against the Bruins in recent memory.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins appeared to score the insurance goal in the third period when Patrice Bergeron jumped on the rebound of a shot attempt where David Pastrnak’s stick had shattered on the initial shot. But a coach’s challenge ruled that the play was off-sides and the goal was overturned leaving it at a one-goal game in the third period. Montreal was given second life to scratch for one goal to at least push things in overtime, but instead that line was at it again and Pastrnak scored on a rebound in front directly from a Torey Krug point shot. That was the goal that officially broke Montreal’s spirit and allowed the Bruins to sweep all three games over the Habs in an eight day span.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug hasn’t exactly been a scoring machine lately, but he stepped up and had one of his best games against Montreal on Saturday. It was Krug that ended up with the game-winning goal on a sniper shot over Price’s shoulder in the second period when he jumped into the play with the Perfection Line dominating, and it was Krug that finished with a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in 17:24 of ice time. He finished with five shot attempts, a hit and a blocked shot as well, and was truly making things happen offensively as he did with a point shot in the third period that turned into a Pastrnak rebound goal for the insurance marker.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – the number of goals for the Perfection Line (Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak) over the 16-game point streak that the Bruins have been riding on for over a month.

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I think at the end of the day if I knew that I would have to face them now, I probably would’ve kept them separate for all those years.” –A joking Claude Julien when asked postgame what it feels like to have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand doing so much damage against his new team during the three games played in eight days.