What we learned in Bruins' 5-2 win over Flames
What we learned in Bruins' 5-2 win over Flames: Streakbusters
Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night:
1) Still more from Marchand
We already know that Brad Marchand is a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate along with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brent Burns, Connor McDavid and Erik Karlsson. That storyline continued on Wednesday with a big go-ahead goal from Marchand in the second period. He motored to the net after a Colin Miller dump-in attempt handcuffed Chad Johnson and managed to backhand the puck past the flailing Johnson when the goalie fumbled the attempt to play the puck. It was Marchand's 26th goal in his past 29 games and gives Marchand the same number of goals as the entire New Jersey Devils team (8) since the beginning of March. So, let’s pause for a minute and reflect on Marchand becoming a great value on the cusp of a new contract kicking in that will pay him $6.125 million per season. There was some question as to whether Marchand would ever be able to approach 36 goals again and it sure looks like he’s going to surpass 40 this season while becoming Boston’s first point-per-game player in almost 10 years dating to Marc Savard. He also looks like an extremely good value for the Bruins at his cap hit for the foreseeable future as he flourished under the pressure of a bigger contract with the higher expectations that go along with it.
2) A scare for Backes
The Bruins dodged a bullet with the David Backes play in the first period. It sure looked like the 32-year-old Backes suffered a serious left knee injury when he caught a rut on the Saddledome ice while going into the corner in a 50/50 puck battle with Mark Giordano. He immediately stumbled and went head-first into the corner, then couldn’t put any weight on his left leg while being helped off the ice by Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. Instead of an ominous update stating that big, bad Backes wouldn’t return to the game, the right winger returned to the bench in the second period and ended up scoring the winning goal on a top-corner sniper shot. Backes re-entered the game with David Krejci and Frank Vatrano, instead of usual partners Bergeron and Marchand, and took in a sweet cross-ice dish from Krejci before finishing off the play with a goal-scorer’s shot. While the goal was a big one, the sight of Backes having avoided a major leg injury this close to the playoffs was a much more important development for the Black and Gold. That’s to say nothing of the heart, character and toughness that Backes showed in returning despite obviously tweaking something in his lower body. He brings a very good, old-school element to his team.
3) Pastrnak joins the 30 at 20 club
David Pastrnak is now a 30-goal scorer at 20 years old, and becomes one of the youngest Bruins to accomplish that feat, along with Barry Peterson and Patrice Bergeron. It wasn’t his most dazzling work that got rewarded on Wednesday night. His routine perimeter shot off the rush beat Chad Johnson through the five-hole for Boston’s first goal and then Pastrnak finished off the scoring with an empty-net goal to clinch the end to Calgary’s 10-game winning streak. But it was still an explosive, full night for the right winger reunited with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand after the first-period scare with David Backes. Pastrnak had five shots on net and nine shot attempts in 20:31 of ice time and finished at plus-1 with just a single giveaway. It was wholly appropriate that it was Pastrnak who was the offensive star of the show outshining a Flames team that’s full of young, offensively explosive players who get plenty of hype and credit north of the border.
*David Pastrnak scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season, finished with nine shot attempts in 20-plus minutes of ice time and looked 100 percent comfortable again skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for most of the night.
*David Backes bounced back from a nasty-looking play in the first period and scored the winning goal in the second period after his teammates had to help carry him off the ice earlier. Backes is a tough, throwback kind of dude and the Bruins can always use more of that.
*Calgary was the site of one of Zdeno Chara’s worst games of the season last year, but he turned that around this time. He finished with a team-best plus-4 rating in 23:46 of ice time to go along with an assist and three shot attempts. He did a really nice job of keeping Johnny Gaudreau quiet most of the night.
*Anton Khudobin got his fourth straight win for the Black and Gold and that’s all that really matters, but that wrist shot that Dougie Hamilton scored on him from beyond the blue line? Ay Carumba!
*Old friends Dennis Wideman and Matt Bartkowski felt like a bad idea as a bottom defense pairing for the Bruins and they finished as a combined minus-6 against a Boston team that exploited them most of the night.
*A quiet night for Frank Vatrano, who had just a single shot on net in 14:49 of ice time riding on the left side with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes for most of the night. Vatrano has no goals in his past eight games and one goal in his past 10, so it’s time for the young winger to start picking things up again.