Bruins

Cassidy on B's 16-game point streak: 'We're playing the style of game that we want'

cassidy_haggerty_1142018.jpg

Cassidy on B's 16-game point streak: 'We're playing the style of game that we want'

The extended run of dominance simply continues for the Boston Bruins with points in 16 straight games, a stretch of consistent brilliance that has them just three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

MORE - Krug has found his groove

It's the longest point streak for the Black and Gold since the high-powered bunch that captured the President's Trophy in 2013-14 at the very tail end of that core group's playoff run. 

The Bruins rank fifth in the NHL in goals scored (3.3 goals per game), second in goals against (2.4 goals allowed per game), eighth in power play (21.1 percent success rate) and fifth on the PK while killing 83.6 percent of the power plays they face. During their 16-game point streak, they’ve outscored opponents by a whopping 64-29 margin while averaging four goals per game and completely embarrassing a handful of teams along the way. 

Certainly the argument can be made that they don’t have many signature wins against playoff teams during the past 16-game stretch, and have lost to the good teams like Pittsburgh, Dallas and Washington during that span. They also may be in danger of falling off their pace in the second half when the schedule really gets heavy for a team chock full of young players, but those things will play out for themselves after the NHL All-Star break. 

For now the Bruins are a hockey team that’s rolling, and playing to their identity as a fast, deep hockey club that’s overwhelming others with what they bring to the table while rolling four lines.

“I think we’re playing to our identity in terms of being hard to play against, and not giving up many easy chances,” said Cassidy. “When we do break down our goaltending has been excellent, and I mean both of them in [Anton] Khudobin and [Tuukka] Rask. I think we’re getting contributions from everybody. Our top line has been really hot lately, obviously, but we’ve had [Riley] Nash’s line scoring, our fourth line has scored and the [David] Krejci group has done a good job. Now our ‘D’ is involved a little bit more as well. 

“I think our pace is good and we really try to deny entries into our own zone. So we’re playing the style of game that we want.”

It’s been particularly impressive in recent games where the Bruins have given up the game’s first goal, and weren’t necessarily able to play the front-runner role that’s been so good for them over the last couple of months. 

It’s also been the same story since mid-November for the Bruins, so it can’t be considered simply a hot streak or a team that’s playing over their collective heads. The Black and Gold are simply dictating terms to every team that they play, climbing up the standings, dashing the dreams of teams like Montreal teetering on the edge of irrelevance and piling up points for the extended “rainy day” that may hit them in the next couple of months. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

my_post.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson has been a massive disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks, but he found a way to get some measure of payback against a Boston team that walked away from him in free agency a couple of years ago. Eriksson scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the proceedings when he overpowered Brandon Carlo in front of the Boston net, and then he added insult to injury with a shorthanded goal late in the third period to really put a capper on the blowout. Eriksson finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in his 17:18 of ice time, and also found a way to collect four shots on net and three takeaways with his always active stick. Those were the ninth and tenth goals scored during the regular season with Eriksson, who has really been a big Swedish bust in Vancouver to this point.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo finished with a minus-4 rating. Oof. The young Bruins shutdown D-man was clearly struggling early when he was losing battles in front of the net highlighted by Loui Eriksson’s first goal, and he had major issues getting good gap control in a stretch where the Bruins are struggling defensively. It’s really a bit of bad timing for Carlo as his play is dipping right now as he’s been mentioned as a key prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline. On the good side, Carlo dropped the gloves with Darren Archibald after he threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak, and continues to slowly-but-surely grow into more of a physical, defensive stopper while learning at the feet of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually outshot the Canucks by an 18-9 margin in the first period, and had some very good offensive chances turned away when Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak both hit the post in key spots. They had Anders Nilsson and the Canucks on the run based on controlling puck possession and getting some decent offensive chances against a goalie in Nilsson that isn’t a household name. But none of it mattered when Loui Eriksson scored just a few minutes into the first period and started a total defensive collapse that saw the Bruins surrender four goals in their worst period of the year. Through it all the Bruins continue to play hard even when a one-sided result on the scoreboard has pretty much dictated their fate.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was really good for the Bruins with his dad, Louie, working between the benches in Vancouver on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the Bruins/Canucks game. DeBrusk had a shot that snapped off the post at the beginning of one of his early shifts, and then DeBrusk clobbered a few more chances at the front of the net as well among his four shots on net in 17:18 of ice time. Perhaps just as impressive DeBrusk turned over three pucks in his night’s work as he was a constant source of energy and attack for the Bruins. If DeBrusk had heard his name in trade rumors over the last couple of days, it certainly didn’t seem like that was really bothering him as he was one of Boston’s best players during the game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Tim Schaller scored a bit of a garbage time goal in the third period for the Bruins to bust up the shutout, and perhaps just as important Schaller is now a double-digit goal-scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His impressive development curve continues for the Black and Gold.       

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We lost the slot battle in the first period. Not hard enough in that area. I thought we had our legs, but the commitment to defending the front of our net has come and gone lately, and it’s added up to goals scored against us.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on the common thread in Saturday night’s loss to the Canucks that turned out to be a massive blowout.   

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

bruins_canucks_2172018.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Loui Eriksson scored his second goal of the night late in the third period and Anders Nilsson stopped 44 shots to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Nic Dowd and Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver, which scored four goals in the first to take control. It gave the Canucks just their second win in eight games.

Vancouver was outshot 45-23 but got some timely saves from Nilsson, who registered his first win in 11 appearances dating back to Nov. 30.

Tim Schaller scored in the third period for the Bruins, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 27 games. Tuukka Rask started and gave up four goals on eight shots in the first period. Anton Khudobin came on to start the second and finished with 13 saves.

Nilsson, who started because Jacob Markstrom was sick, made a couple of big saves early, including getting a pad on Danton Heinen's shot off a rebound during a first-period Boston power play. In the third, he robbed Schaller and Sean Kuraly on back-to-back plays.

Nilsson also got a little lucky as the Bruins hit three posts in the first 20 minutes.

The Canucks were outshot 18-9 in the first period but led 4-0.

Eriksson opened the scoring two minutes into the game. Rask gave up a big rebound off Alex Edler's shot, and Sedin took a swipe at the puck before it rolled to Eriksson, who whacked it into the net.

The Canucks went ahead 2-0 at 10:54 on a pretty play from Thomas Vanek. He skated down the middle the ice then feathered a pass through the legs of Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo to Sedin, who was alone at the side of the net.

Horvat made it 3-0 just 56 seconds later as he took a pass from Troy Stecher, skated around defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and put a shot over Rask's glove. Nilsson earned an assist on the goal.

The Canucks made it 4-0 on a strange play. Rask stopped a shot from Baertschi and Boston's Noel Acciari tried to clear the rebound, but the puck hit Kuraly's stick and went into the net.

Dowd scored the only goal of the second period to make it 5-0. Jake Virtanen cut across the front of the net and took a shot that Khudobin stopped but Dowd put in the rebound for his second at 2:44.

NOTES: Canucks D Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the ninth time in the last 25. ... Baertschi returned to the Canucks' lineup after sitting out Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday. ... Louie DeBrusk, the father of Boston rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, worked between the benches as a color analyst for the first time in a game his son played.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE