Bruins

What We Learned: Back home is where the goals are for Spooner

bruins-senators-what-we-learned-123117.jpg

What We Learned: Back home is where the goals are for Spooner

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 5-0 blowout win over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre:

1) Ryan Spooner certainly likes playing against his hometown Senators.
The speedy, skilled forward from the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, Ontario, has always played well in Ottawa, and that stayed true with a two-goal game against the Senators with his friends and family in the stands on Saturday night. Spooner has five two-goal games in his NHL career and three of them have come in Ottawa. He also has more career goals (six) vs. the Senators than against any other team in the NHL. Spooner also scored in Philadelphia this season with his dad on the father’s road trip with the Bruins players, so perhaps the team should invest in having Spooner’s friends and family with him for every one of his games. Based on the small sample size, it causes a major spike in productivity for a player that very clearly has some untapped talent that we see in games such as Saturday when he’s taking more of an aggressive, assertive approach to his game.

2)  David Krejci is vital to the functionality and productivity of the power play.
The playmaking center returned after missing the previous six games with an upper-body injury and the Bruins cranked out three power-play goals in his return. The Bruins power play had been mired in a 1-for-14 funk the previous five games without Krejci, including a shootout loss to the Capitals where the man-advantage really let them down. It was clear that adding Krejci to the second PP unit all of a sudden perked up David Backes and Charlie McAvoy, among others on that second group. They provided each of the first two PP goals with Krejci providing the primary assist on the first and actually scoring on a play crashing the net for the second PP score. In all, Krejci finished with a goal, two points and a plus-1 rating in 16:42 of ice time, along with five shots on net and 10-of-18 face-off wins. He was solid in 5-on-5 play, but it was on the power play where Krejci took a leadership role and created offense for everybody else on that second unit.

3) The Ottawa Senators and the rest of the Atlantic Division beyond Tampa, Toronto and Boston is an absolute dumpster fire.
The Bruins had some concerns about showing well against their own division opponents with so many games against the Sens, Panthers and Montreal Canadiens in the next month. Clearly, it was a point of emphasis with two games against Ottawa the past week. The Bruins applied that effort and focus to those two games and came away outscoring the beleaguered Senators by an aggregate 10-1 score in a pair of blowout wins. The B's showed no problems mastering the 1-3-1 trap while completely stomping on a team that beat them in the playoffs last season. It was so bad that at least one Senators fan tossed their sweater to the ice as the game ended in Ottawa on Saturday night. There are similar calamities playing out in Montreal, Detroit and Buffalo as well. Perhaps the Florida Panthers can still make a run as they are on life support amidst a winning streak, but it sure looks like nobody is going to catch the Bruins and Leafs for the second and third playoff seeds in the Atlantic Division. It’s crazy to say that given it’s not even January yet, but that is exactly what’s playing out this season.

PLUS
*Spooner scored a pair of goals and led the Bruins with six shots on net and played with the kind of aggressiveness and assertiveness he’s going to need in order to have success at the wing position. Spooner finished December with three goals, eight points and a plus-5 in nine games. He’s playing some of the best hockey of his Bruins career.

*Tuukka Rask finished a dominant month of December with a 25-save shutout. He and was 9-0-1 with a .955 save percentage for the month while shooting up the NHL ranks in both goals against average and save percentage. It remains to be seen where Rask is at the end of the season, but he’s been very good, along with the rest of the Bruins, the past month.

*Krejci immediately made an immediate impact on the power play helping create a couple of goals on the man-advantage and finished with a goal, two points and five shots on net in 16-plus minutes of ice time. It was impressive considering he’d missed the previous six games with an upper-body injury.

MINUS
*Erik Karlsson has enjoyed many, many dominant games against the Bruins and was the biggest driving force in defeating them in the first round of the playoffs last spring. But he wasn’t good on Saturday night with just a couple of shots on net and a minus-2 in 26-plus minutes of ice time.

*The Senators fans were apparently booing Matt Duchene Saturday and that really lets you know how they’re viewing the trade that sent away fan favorite Kyle Turris based on the simple fact that Ottawa ownership didn’t want to pay him.

*One shot on net combined between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak continues a recent stretch where both players have been very quiet offensively. It’s a good thing other Bruins have stepped up to provide some support offensively during the lull from their top forward line. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

screen_shot_2018-04-19_at_12.39.30_am.png
USA TODAY Sports Photo

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

TORONTO – The Bruins top line totaled up 20 points in the first two games, and the B’s took both of those against the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had zero points in Game 3 on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, and the Bruins ended up dropping that game to the Leafs. 

So clearly the Bruins’ playoff fate could be strongly tied to the ebbs and flow of their top forward trio, but the hope with the B’s is that the formula won’t be that simple throughout the postseason. A big part of the reason the Bruins gave up a boatload to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash was to acquire another forward capable of shouldering a scoring load, and turn Boston’s second line into a much more dangerous group. 

All three members of the B’s second line, David Krejci, Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk, all have goals during the best-of-seven series, but they also came up empty in Game 3 with Krejci and DeBrusk only managing two shots on net between them. They know that they’re capable of more given the offensive talent on the ice, and given that so much defensive attention is being paid to neutralizing Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak rather than them. 

“We had lots of good looks. I missed a couple. We had lots of good looks that just didn’t go in,” said Krejci. “So we need to work extra harder [in Game 4] to bury those chances and have them end up in the back of the net. We need to stick to the game plan and respect the game plan.”

MORE BRUINS:

Nash had five shots on net and some pretty good chances, but the best scoring chance was a DeBrusk dangle and pass to Krejci wide open at the net. It looked like the puck hit a rut on the ice and Krejci was never able to settle it down for a shot despite the nice-looking pass, so that line is left biding their team for another chance to carry the offense. 

“I think that’s the main reason why we’re the second line. We all have attributes that can help this team. It hasn’t really come to the table yet, but I still thought that we generated chances [in Game 3], and I think our whole team did. It just wasn’t bouncing our way,” said DeBrusk. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time you take the positives from it. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to get harder from here on in. Hopefully our top line does their thing, but if not then we’ll be ready to hopefully help out in that category.”

The Bruins top line is ready, willing and able to shoulder the lion’s share of the scoring burden for the Black and Gold, and most nights they’re going to be able to live up to that kind of responsibility. But if the Bruins want to beat the good defensive teams and become a much more difficult team to play against in the postseason, they’re going to need to start getting production from a second line that should be built to play the power, puck possession game in the postseason.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

bruins_bergeron_021116.jpg
File Photo

Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

TORONTO – At some point, they’re going to have to start thinking about re-naming the award after Patrice Bergeron himself.

The Bruins center was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night for the seventh consecutive season, and is going for his NHL-record fifth trophy for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist along with Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Bergeron finished his 12th NHL season with 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with 26 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 64 games.

MORE BRUINS:

He ranked fifth in the league in faceoff win percentage (57.3, min. 1,000 face-offs), 12th in face-offs won (784), third in even strength faceoff win percentage (58.0, min. 500 face-offs won) and first in shorthanded faceoff win percentage (58.3, min. 50 face-offs won). The 32-year-old forward also ranked second overall in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), with a 57.56%, which should make the fancy stat nerds very happy.

Some might argue there other more worthy candidates given that Bergeron missed 18 games due to injury this season, but he was also the center of a line that didn’t give up an even strength goal until January while putting up his customarily excellent stats. That being said, a guy like Aleksander Barkov also deserved plenty of consideration outside the top-3 finalists that all come in with equally strong chances of taking home the award.

Bergeron has won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If he wins the year's Selke Trophy, he will break the record held by four-time winner and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. The Selke Award is given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season, and will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE