GOLD STAR: Sean Kuraly doesn’t get to play the lead role much for a talented Bruins team, so let him get his share of the credit for a multi-point game on Tuesday night. Kuraly got the B’s on the board in the second period when he was able to step into a pass from Matt Grzelcyk and hammer home a shot from the slot. He finished with a goal and two points in 9:42 of ice time, and scored his first goal since Thanksgiving for a fourth line that’s been very good this season. Best of all Kuraly did one of his animated, enthusiastic celebrations after he scored, though this time it wasn’t quite the same as some of the ones where he was leaping through the air. All in all it was a strong game from Boston’s fourth line center on a night when they needed to grind out the win.
BLACK EYE: It was a rough night for Danny DeKeyser, who finished with a game-worst minus-3 meaning he was on ice for all three of Boston’s goals. DeKeyser and D-man partner Nick Jensen clearly got picked on in that regard, and DeKeyser wasn’t able to do much of anything else to positively impact a game in terms of offense or physicality. At least his defensive partner threw four hits and blocked four shots. Instead DeKeyser just kind of floated through the game with a single shot on net, a couple of shots that got blocked and pretty much nothing else of use for a Red Wings team that’s largely going through the motions at this point.
TURNING POINT: Clearly it was the second period for the Bruins where they outshot the Red Wings by an 11-5 margin, and recovered by scoring a pair of goals after giving up a power play strike to Detroit earlier in the second period. The first period was solid too with the B’s outshooting the Wings by a 13-7 margin, but the middle 20 minutes is where they really took over. Sean Kuraly scored the first goal on a nice play where Zdeno Chara pinched in to keep the offensive play alive, and then David Krejci scored the go-ahead goal after hammering a loose puck coming right to him in the slot. It turned out to be Danton Heinen’s insurance goal in the third period that ended up being the game-winner, but it was the middle period where the Bruins really seized control of the game and never relinquished it.
HONORABLE MENTION: Danton Heinen scored the game-winner and finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 rating in 19:51 of ice time. Heinen had four shots on net, five shot attempts and a takeaway while filling in for Brad Marchand for the last time during the B’s winger’s five game suspension, and he once again impressed with his all-around play. It was Heinen that roofed a shot to the top corner after collecting a Sean Kuraly feed in the third period for the actual game-winner, and it was Heinen that also hit a post in the first period on a rush down the left wing. On a night when many of Boston’s big offensive guns were quiet against a trapping Red Wings team, it was Heinen that stepped up as he has on a number of occasions this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11-1-2 – the Bruins record over the 14 games that they’ve played since the beginning of January as the beat just keeps going on for the Black and Gold.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Lately I think our starts have gotten better, but it doesn't matter if we go down a goal. We just keep plugging away and play our game, and it's paid off." –Tuukka Rask, who improved to 19-0-2 with a 1.60 goals against average and a .942 save percentage with his 26-save effort.
TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months.
Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin.
The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.
He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury.
Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.
Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.
TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick.
The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.
Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.
In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.
There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.