GOLD STAR: James van Riemsdyk was an absolute beast in front of the net, and something the Bruins didn’t have an answer for when they really needed to. JVR finished with both goals during regulation after winning battles in front of the net, had a game-high seven shots on net, 10 shot attempts and a couple of hits in his 16:57 of ice time. The first goal came during a Toronto power play where Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo couldn’t corral JVR, and the second was a couple of failures to clear the puck leading to van Riemsdyk once again stepping up and snapping in a shot after a scramble around the paint. JVR has had some pretty effective games against the Bruins over the years, but this will stand as one of the better ones.
BLACK EYE: It wasn’t a very strong night from Zdeno Chara, and that’s reflected in the way – and when – Toronto scored their goals in regulation. Chara was on the ice for both goals against, had three giveaways and took a pair of penalties in his 23:56 of ice time while not really looking like he was skating well most of the time also. But the real damning part was where James van Riemsdyk scored the goals in front of the net, which is usually Chara’s office and where he does the dirty work eliminating would-be invaders from getting into the scoring areas. But he couldn’t stop JVR from either of the two damaging goals, and didn’t have a particularly good road trip with a couple of physical, demanding games in New York and Toronto.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had multiple chances to clear pucks from the defensive zone in the closing minute leading up to the tying goal, but couldn’t make strong enough plays to either clear it or simply ice the puck. Instead, it became a melee around the front of the net where eventually James van Riemsdyk stepped in and pushed things into the extra session. That inability to hold strong through the end of periods is beginning to become a bit of a “thing” for the Bruins, and it bears watching moving forward to see if it really becomes a full-blown problem. It certainly cost them a valuable point against an Atlantic Division League foe on Friday night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron played his butt off once again logging 22:49 of ice time, firing off a team-high six shots on net and scoring a second-period goal after once again teaming up with Brad Marchand for the offense. He finished 19-for-28 in the face-off circle, had a hit, a takeaway and a blocked shot to go along with everything, and generally did himself very proud on a night where he wanted to honor his Hall of Fame friend, Mark Recchi. The only shame of it was that there weren’t enough players on the Bruins roster that could execute like No. 37 did for the full 60 minutes of hockey. Bergeron has been sensational since coming back from his early-season injury, and Friday night was another example of that.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of Stanley Cup rings for about-to-be-inducted Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who had the three from his playing days along with two rings from each of the last two seasons as Player Development coach with the Penguins. That is an impressive collection of jewelry.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "On the tying goal the puck was on the stick of 3 different guys we trust to get the job done & we didn't get it out. We were soft on it." – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who clearly didn’t like what he saw from his guys in the final minute of regulation leading to the tying goal.