Hayes proves to be a difference-maker in Bruins big win vs. Kings

Hayes proves to be a difference-maker in Bruins big win vs. Kings

BOSTON – It’s hard to decipher exactly what clicked in for Jimmy Hayes on Sunday afternoon like it hadn’t for many of the 30 plus games for the Bruins this season. But the 6-foot-6 winger did his job and did it well in a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings where he made an impact in front of the net with his size and strength, won battles and became a positive factor when he’s been invisible or worse for the B’s so often this season. 

Hayes was not invisible in this one, scoring the game’s only goal for his second point in his last 42 games, and acting as a difference-maker for the Black and Gold when they needed somebody to step up offensively. It was just one performance, of course, but Claude Julien noted that it felt different to him than many of Hayes’ 28 games played this season. 


“[Hayes] was better tonight. I liked his game a lot better,” said Claude Julien. “He resembled probably the older Hayes that we had at times last year than the one we’ve seen this year. You’re hoping a guy has kind of turned the corner, and is starting to find their game here a little bit.”

Hayes didn’t waste any time with the Bruins down a couple of bodies in Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak, and jumped into some first period action after a Dominic Moore face-off win in the offensive zone. Hayes worked the puck up to Colin Miller at the point, and then went directly to the net as Miller unloaded a point shot directly at the Los Angeles net. 

Hayes got the shaft of his stick on the Miller bomb from the point, and redirected it past Peter Budaj to give the Bruins an early lead. The fourth line right wing seemed to be feeling it a little bit as he fed a trailing Miller later on in the first period as well for a pretty good scoring chance that Budaj eventually kicked away. 

Hayes finished with the goal and a plus-1 rating in 7:18 of ice time, and added a couple of registered hits and a couple of shots on net in nine influential shifts during a heavy, hard-hitting game against the Kings. It was part of an encouraging stint for Hayes with Moore and rookie winger Anton Blidh making up a hard-working fourth line, and perhaps another step forward climbing out of what’s been a giant hole for him this season. 

“A guy like [Pastrnak] who’s been scoring for us, scoring some big-time goals for us and on a regular basis though, you’re going to need other guys to step up,” said the 27-year-old Hayes. “That’s going to have to be the mentality going forward. You try to help the team whenever you can. Today I got the opportunity, so it’s nice to cash in on one.

“That’s what it’s going to take to stay in the lineup every night and [you’ve got to] find a way, you’ve got to battle hard. That’s what’s expected from Claude [Julien], and I expect that from myself.”

The whole key for Hayes to have more offensive effectiveness with the Bruins is getting to the front of the net, and then being ready for the puck when it comes his way. In his last game vs. Pittsburgh he had a couple of setups in front of the net, and couldn’t even get the puck on net while camped out in front. This time around he was ready for the Miller sizzler as it came down from the point, and it was like many of the goals around the paint he scored (19) for the Florida Panthers a couple of years ago.

“If you go back and look at a lot of my goals that I’ve scored in my career, probably all are right around that area,” said Hayes, the proud owner of 51 goals in 271 games during his NHL career. “I’ve just got to continue to find ways to get on the inside and bang them home.”

It sounds simple and it actually kind of is, but the Bruins need a lot more games like Sunday’s performance on a consistent basis from Hayes before he becomes somebody the B’s can consistently count on for that interior offense. 

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.