Vatrano, DeBrusk end goal-scoring droughts


Vatrano, DeBrusk end goal-scoring droughts

BOSTON – On a night when the Bruins needed more from players that hadn’t been providing it lately, a couple of them came through early in a big way.

Both Jake DeBrusk (eight games) and Frank Vatrano (25 games, that dated back to last season) ended long goal-scoring droughts in the 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden. 


With DeBrusk it was a nice play where he attacked with speed, separated Jarred Spurgeon from a puck close to the Minnesota net and then banked a puck off Ryan Suter in front on its way past Devan Dubnyk in the wild net. It was part of four shots on net and a couple of hits for DeBrusk in 16:29 and a nice little carrot for the youngster after putting in a lot of hard work in between scoring his second and third goals of the season.

It certainly looked at times like the left wing was left wide open by the Wild for Boston’s wingers to motor up and down making plays and that’s exactly what they did.

“It’s nice to see Jake [DeBrusk] get rewarded, even though it was a bit of a lucky goal. We talk about his foot speed, getting his legs underneath him, he’s attacking, winning pucks and if you get towards the net you’re going to get some of those breaks so good for him,” said Bruce Cassidy of his rookie winger. “I think we’ve wanted to play that way. I think in training camp you start to see some of it when Jake [DeBrusk] was there, he can motor. Frank [Vatrano] can go in straight lines. I think it just worked out that we’re able to hunt down pucks.

“I talked about our breakouts earlier. We want to be low support in our zone, not getting out of there too soon. I think earlier in the year we talked about some of those high flips, skating on to them, so we’ve balanced that better now. Being in our zone when it’s appropriate to support it low and then get it going when our defensemen have a chance to get it out. So that worked out well for us tonight and that’s all it was. Nothing to do with I think how Minnesota played, it was more about the personnel we have and the situations that have presented themselves.”

Similarly, Vatrano played with straight-line speed all night and snapped in a bit of a knuckling puck that was on edge from long distance and dinged off the post and then off Devan Dubnyk for his first goal of the season in his 10th game. The goal was coming off being a healthy scratch for each of the previous two games and the hope is that it can set off the 23-year-old that has the talent and shot/release to go on a bit of an offensive binge with a little more confidence.

“[Vatrano] had a lot of pep in his step. I mean, obviously, he’s got a lot of pride. He didn’t like being scratched from the lineup. I think the goal really helps him. He’s a goal scorer and it’s been a while so when you get a break like that and you shoot enough times, it got him excited to play the rest of the game,” said Cassidy. “He’s been working on that part of his game in fairness to him, being a complete player, and it’s a work in progress for a lot of guys, a lot of young guys. So we liked it. We need secondary scoring and he was able to provide some of that.”

The trick for both now is to get each of those revitalized players into a stretch where they can heat up offensively and help offset the Bruins missing three of their top six wingers with David Krejci, Brad Marchand and David Backes all out. 

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.

Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent. 

“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. 

“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.” 

That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.


Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.


*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.


*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.


*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.


*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.


*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.


*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.