BOSTON -- Somehow the Bruins are managing to survive, and even thrive at times, despite an injury list that keeps growing with each passing day.
The shorthanded B's banked two more points in their 5-3 win over the equally banged-up Minnesota Wild on Monday night at TD Garden, and have now taken points in seven of their last eight games. Some of it is about fill-ins stepping up and getting the job done, some of it is about the youth movement coming through intermittently, some of it is about Boston's core group pulling the rest of the team along, and some of it is about a team displaying a ton of heart and character.
The Bruins showed all of those things after initially falling behind Minnesota by a goal in the first period, and they displayed those enviable qualities in battling back from deficits against both Columbus and Washington over the last week, as well. Habitually falling behind isn't a recipe for success, but the Bruins will take whatever they can get with a bare-bones roster that looks more like an AHL team.
Clearly it's a small sample size of games with the season barely a month old, but the Bruins refusing to throw in the towel is becoming a trend.
"You're starting to see that personality of our hockey club that we are not going to be an easy out," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "We are going to keep ourselves in games, and work hard to get back in games. Some nights it's going to work out, and some nights it's not. That would be a great personality to have on the team. It just shows the character of the group."
It's interesting to note the Bruins lost Saturday when David Pastrnak accounted for all of Boston's, but won Monday with five different goal-scorers. Certainly they'll count on Jake DeBrusk, who opened Boston's barrage with his third goal of the season, but it was all secondary offense after that, with Frank Vatrano, Sean Kuraly, Torey Krug and Tim Schaller doing the rest of the goal-scoring.
The Bruins were rewarded with the first two assists of Jordan Szwarz's NHL career, and they got hardnosed, physical play from guys like Matt Beleskey, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara against Minnesota after getting pushed around by Washington last weekend.
It's exactly the kind of diversified scoring and offense that Boston is going to need while missing three of its top six forwards (David Krejci, David Backes and Brad Marchand). The trick will be duplicating it through the month of November, with 8 of their 12 opponents having made the playoffs last season. That doesn't leave a lot of room for error while waiting for reinforcements over the next few weeks, but that's the Bruins' lot whether they like it or not.
"We prepare for the games," said Chara. "It's just happens that we are missing some guys. But we can't be feeling sorry for ourselves. We accepted a few days ago that everything is going to be battling, or facing some kind of challenge with injuries, missing players. But like I said earlier, I think it's a great chance for our players to step up, and they did. They played really well. We had a really good team effort. That's important that you don't always rely on the same guy. It's other guys stepping up and making big contributions."
It's a time-honored hockey platitude that injuries are simply an opportunity for somebody else to step up. Normally it's a hackneyed cliché, but stepping up is exactly what's happening as the Bruins have posted a 6-4-3 record in their first 13 games without even once boasting their full lineup. Undoubtedly there's room for improvement -- and it will be a much different story when they finally get healthy -- but for now they're hoping for a steady stream of grind-it-out games just like Monday's all-in win over the Wild.