Bruins

Talking Points: Bruins dominating and depth is the deciding factor

Talking Points: Bruins dominating and depth is the deciding factor

GOLD STAR: They weren’t rewarded until late in the game with actual points, but Tim Schaller and his fourth line cohorts were dominant throughout the game. They consistently pounded the offensive zone with long puck possession shifts and continued wearing down the New York Islanders defense before it finally broke in the third period. Schaller finally got on the board through a nice play by Sean Kuraly that his linemate popped in on the rebound. He finished with a goal and two points, and a plus-2 in 11:54 of ice time along with four shots on net. While it’s clear that the Bruins third line has been really productive over the last few weeks, the fourth line has also been serving notice that they’re going to be an impact energy group as well. Tuesday night might have been the fourth line’s best night of the season, and it was easily one of Schaller’s best games of the year.

BLACK EYE: John Tavares had a forgettable night as he was dominated by just about every line the Bruins threw at them. The Isles franchise cornerstone finished with minus-3 and just one shot on net in 19 minutes of ice time, and also lost 8-of-14 face-offs while getting worked by Boston’s down-the-middle crew. It was Tavares that was beaten cleanly by Riley Nash for a goal in the first period off the draw. Perhaps that threw Tavares off for the rest of the night, it was certainly a poor game on his part.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins worked to get a 2-1 lead entering the third period, and they truly dominated the middle 20 minutes by outshooting the Isles by a 17-4 margin despite getting just a single goal of separation. So the Bruins could have buckled holding a small lead, and almost did at the end of the second period when Mat Barzal went end-to-end through the Bruins defense in a play that ended with Nick Leddy jacking a ripped point shot off the post. After escaping that segment, the Bruins came out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to take home an eventual 5-1 win over the Islanders. The Bruins have shown an ability to finish strong and they did it once again against the Islanders after physically grinding them through the opening 40 minutes.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron only needed to play 14:22 of ice time, but he made it count while snapping home the game-winner in the second period when it was still a tightly-contested game. Bergeron batted a puck out of mid-air at the Islanders net, guided it toward his stick and then fired a puck at the skates of Jaroslav Halak in an incredibly heady play. In all Bergeron finished with a goal, a plus-1 rating, two shots on net, two hits and 12-of-17 face-off wins in a game where he got to rest a bit in the third period. But No. 37 was right where he needed to be during the money portion of the game before they run away with it late.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – The Bruins line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were finally on ice for their first 5-on-5 goal against this season when Brandon Carlo fell down with the puck right in front of the B’s net after a Bergeron D-zone face-off win. They deserved a better fate, but it doesn’t take away any of the dominant even-strength play they’ve had this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “[The Bruins] are a good offensive team and they don’t give up a whole lot. But it’s not good enough for our group starting with myself. We need to set the tone the right way and start playing to expectations.” –John Tavares, who paid the Bruins plenty of complements while taking responsibility for an Islanders team that didn’t play well. 

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak had been a little quiet offensively, but that all changed on Saturday night against Montreal. It was the 21-year-old that answered with a bad angle goal in the second period after Montreal had taken the first lead in the game, and it was Pastrnak again in the third period crashing the net and scoring his second goal to finally give Boston the breathing room that they needed. Pastrnak thoroughly dominated the game, scored two goals and three points along with a plus-3 rating, and led all players with a game-high eight shots on net while playing with energy and intensity in all three zones. It is nights like Saturday night in Montreal when you see just how good Pastrnak could still be a few years down the road.

BLACK EYE: Carey Price wasn’t terrible in the game, but he gave up the wrong goal at the wrong time to the Bruins in the second period. David Pastrnak surprised him with a bad angle shot by the goal line aimed at his skates, and Price couldn’t recover quickly enough to keep the puck from squirting into the net for the game-tying goal. Given how much better the Bruins are than the Canadiens this season, Price was going to be have to letter-perfect in order to beat the Black and Gold. Instead he gave up a bad goal just minutes after Montreal had finally scored, and completely sucked all of the momentum out of the Habs. A few minutes later Torey Krug beat Carey Price with a sniped shot for the go-ahead goal and that was it for the night. In all Price allowed three goals on 30 shots and had one of his weaker games against the Bruins in recent memory.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins appeared to score the insurance goal in the third period when Patrice Bergeron jumped on the rebound of a shot attempt where David Pastrnak’s stick had shattered on the initial shot. But a coach’s challenge ruled that the play was off-sides and the goal was overturned leaving it at a one-goal game in the third period. Montreal was given second life to scratch for one goal to at least push things in overtime, but instead that line was at it again and Pastrnak scored on a rebound in front directly from a Torey Krug point shot. That was the goal that officially broke Montreal’s spirit and allowed the Bruins to sweep all three games over the Habs in an eight day span.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug hasn’t exactly been a scoring machine lately, but he stepped up and had one of his best games against Montreal on Saturday. It was Krug that ended up with the game-winning goal on a sniper shot over Price’s shoulder in the second period when he jumped into the play with the Perfection Line dominating, and it was Krug that finished with a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in 17:24 of ice time. He finished with five shot attempts, a hit and a blocked shot as well, and was truly making things happen offensively as he did with a point shot in the third period that turned into a Pastrnak rebound goal for the insurance marker.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – the number of goals for the Perfection Line (Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak) over the 16-game point streak that the Bruins have been riding on for over a month.

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I think at the end of the day if I knew that I would have to face them now, I probably would’ve kept them separate for all those years.” –A joking Claude Julien when asked postgame what it feels like to have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand doing so much damage against his new team during the three games played in eight days. 

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