GOLD STAR: Ryan Spooner had to move to the wing to make room for David Krejci in the lineup, but made a huge statement tonight that he wants to keep playing. His strong play fends off teammates like Anders Bjork and Frank Vatrano chomping at the bit to get back in. Spooner scored a pair of goals to earn his third career two-goal game against his hometown Senators. He played with a fantastic combination of speed and skill both during 5-on-5 play and on the power play. Spooner scored two goals, earned a plus-1 rating, and netted six shots on net in 17:07 of ice time. He now has two goals and seven points in his last seven games since coming back from injury. Perhaps the most promising signs Spooner has shown is his competitiveness, aggressive speed and assertiveness on the ice. This will keep him in the lineup for as long as that remains the case. It’s a win-win situation for the Bruins if it continues as they can utilize him as a veteran top-6 winger, and they could also decide to potentially deal him from a position of strength if he’s playing full-tilt hockey like he is right now.
BLACK EYE: Erik Karlsson has enjoyed some very good games against the Bruins as of late, but Saturday night was not one of them for the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman. Instead it looked like there was a whole lot of resignation in the games of both Karlsson and the rest of the Senators players once things started rolling away from them in the second period. Karlsson finished a team-worst minus-2 with just two shots in net in 26 plus minutes of ice time, and had five of his seven shot attempts blocked by a Bruins team that was going all out for the win. Karlsson has elevated his game for the Senators as of late, but that wasn’t really the case in Saturday’s shutout loss.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a 1-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes, but they really pulled away in the second period against an Ottawa team that appeared to pack it in. The Bruins scored three unanswered goals in the second period, finally started getting their power play unit in sync and then totally buried the Senators underneath continuous waves of quality shifts from all four lines. The Bruins outshot the Senators by a 23-15 margin over the final 40 minutes of the game, and Ottawa could manage only four shots on net in the third period. Ottawa was left waving the white flag in a sad final 20 minutes for them. This was a tale of two hockey teams going in very different directions this season, and the Bruins clearly asserted their authority over the Sens.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci returned after missing the last six games with an upper body injury and made an immediate impact with a goal, two points, and solid powerplay effort on Saturday night. Krejci looked no worse for the wear health-wise and had very little rust in his game as he totaled a goal, two points, a plus-1 rating, five shots on net and a 10-for-18 performance in the face-off circle. It was very clear that Krejci’s presence really elevated the man advantage and gave the Bruins exactly the kind of high wattage special teams play they’re going to need to keep carrying things offensively as they move forward.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10-2-2 – The Bruins record during an excellent month of December where they climbed up the standings and ended on a high note with the blowout win over the Senators.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Everyone showed up, we played well and we didn’t give them much. Offensively I thought things were clicking, and the power play was amazing from the [David] Krejci unit. It really got us going.” –Patrice Bergeron to NESN on the blowout win over the Senators that ended a 3-of-4 point performance on the two-game road trip.
BOSTON – It was the final piece of closure for former Bruins coach Claude Julien when he made his return to TD Garden for the first time as the bench boss for the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. Julien stood on the visiting bench, watched a first period video tribute of appreciation for his 10 years guiding the Bruins and then received the warm, thankful ovation from the B’s fans that still very much appreciate his efforts that resulted in a 2011 Stanley Cup title.
Unfortunately for him and the Canadiens he also presided over a lifeless, limp effort from his Montreal club in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins where his team simply couldn’t derive any emotion or juice from his return to Boston. Julien said in both French and English that that his Habs simply “laid an egg” on the road, and that was disappointing for him given that Montreal already has its back against the wall for a possible playoff spot.
Instead Julien’s biggest bright spot in the game turned out to be the video tribute from the Bruins midway through the first period, for which he was greatly appreciative.
“It’s always something that you kind of dread a little bit because it’s a little emotional, and at the same time [you’re] trying to keep your emotions intact there so you can coach a game and stuff like that. But, you know, I appreciate what they did for me,” said Julien following his second loss to the Bruins in five days. “As I said, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about this organization that gave me the opportunity to spend 10 years here. At the same time I’m kind of happy it’s over so we can move on now, but that doesn’t mean you forget what’s happened here. It’s always going to be with you. But now I’m in another chapter of my coaching career, and I’ve got to think about that.”
Julien’s counterpart, Bruce Cassidy, called the video tribute a “classy move” by the Bruins organization after the game had been settled, and there’s no doubting it was the right move for a coach that won over 400 games during his 10 years leading the Bruins. It was also the final chapter in his Bruins book as Julien now has completely moved on to his new gig guiding the Canadiens where it seems like his work is most definitely cut out for him.
GOLD STAR: It had to feel good for Ryan Spooner. The speedy forward played a great game, finished with the game-winning goal in Claude Julien’s return to Boston and had both four shots on net and four registered hits in 16:07 of ice time. His goal was a level of grit and buy-in that he didn’t always have when Julien was the coach, but it’s one that he’s found more and more since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the B’s bench. Spooner drove the puck straight toward the net, and attempted to throw a pass backdoor to Matt Grzelcyk. But instead the puck bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and ended up in the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. For a player that long struggled under the watchful eye of Julien, Spooner’s night continued a stretch of very strong play since coming back from injury.
BLACK EYE: Jonathan Drouin was supposed to be a game-changing center for the Canadiens after being moved from Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t even been close to that, or actually being a center, for the Habs this year. Drouin really didn’t bring much of anything on Wednesday night with a couple of shots on net, a giveaway and a 1-for-9 on the draw in his 17:04 of ice time. He was like so many of the other players on the Montreal roster that didn’t show up with their best in a rivalry game between the Bruins and the Habs. Even worse than that they didn’t show up in a game they desperately needed to win if they wanted to stay relevant in the playoff race. With the minus game again on Wednesday, Drouin is also now a minus-20 on the season in what’s been a truly disappointing year.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins bounced back strongly after giving up a goal on the first shift of the game, and really took things over after the fortunate bounce for Jakub Jerabek got the Habs on the board early. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens by a 25-13 margin in the first two periods, dominated play and posted a goal in each of the first two periods to get the B’s on the board. From that point on it was smooth sailing and Boston only needed to collect a couple of insurance goals in the third period to truly seal Montreal’s fate. What was surprising was that the Habs showed little fight or pride while slowly sinking into the mud during the game, and never ever provided any real challenge to the Bruins in a game that was still separated by just a single goal until later in the third period.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had one of his better games for the Bruins with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:58 of ice time. It was an empty net goal that rounded out the scoring in the third period, and he finished with four shot attempts, a takeaway and 16-of-20 face-off wins in 15:58 of ice time. In general the Bruins frontline centers absolutely and thoroughly dominated Montreal’s poor excuse for players down the middle of their lineup, and Krejci was a big part of that in helping set up Spooner’s game-winner as well. Krejci was also a player that had his differences of opinion with Julien when he was coaching the Bruins, so the big game for him on Wednesday night also must have felt pretty cathartic when it was all said and done.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games for Tuukka Rask’s current point streak where he’s put together a 13-0-2 record that dates back to his four game benching in the middle of November. He finished with a solid night’s work of 21 saves in the win over the Habs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We laid an egg.” –Claude Julien said that phrase in both French and English to discuss a truly pathetic performance for his Canadiens team in what should have been an intense Bruins/Habs rivalry game on national television.