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.
*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.
*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.