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


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.

*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. 


Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games


Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

GOLD STAR: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? The Bruins center finishes with three goals and his second hat trick in a span of six games, and now has 11 goals scored in his last 11 games during a wicked goal-scoring spree. Bergeron clearly wasn’t just about the goals as he also finished with four shots on net and won 12-of-18 face-offs in his 15:39 of ice time, but it’s amazing how he’s been able to get into so many great scoring positions while always facing the other team’s best defensive players. It speaks to just how good he is when he gets those chances in the slot, and how good both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are at getting the puck to him in the spots where he can do his offensive damage. Bergeron now has 19 goals on the season and continues to roll out some serious offensive numbers for a Bruins team that’s just destroying their opponents. Bergeron is the first Bruins player to score two hat tricks in the span of six games since Rick Tocchet did it in five games back in 1996 for the Black and Gold.  

BLACK EYE: The Barclays Center shouldn’t be housing NHL hockey games, and thankfully won’t be in the near future when the Isles move out of Brooklyn. That being said, it had to demoralize whatever fans have made the move to Brooklyn to see so many Bruins hats get tossed on the ice from Boston fans after Bergeron scored his third goal of the game. The Islanders games have always felt like de facto home games for the Black and Gold given the huge contingent of B’s fans that make the trip to New York for these games. But it’s all the more of a gut punch when it turns into those road warrior Bruins fans loudly and animatedly celebrating goals, wins and hat tricks in front of the Islanders players and coaches. That’s a tough spot for them to be in during what’s supposed to be a strong home ice presence, but that’s life at a Barclays Center that makes me pine for Nassau Coliseum. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins gave up the first goal of the game on a bad Brandon Carlo turnover in the D-zone, and it could have gone against them in the second night of a back-to-back on the road. But the Bruins dug in, reversed the momentum and instead found the Bergeron line to lead the way with their first goal scored in the game. After that they just continued to pour on the hard work, the offense and the Bergeron goals as he scored three overall and the Bruins rode the momentum wave into five goals and a strong finish in the third period. In two straight games the Bruins have given up the first goal, and it doesn’t even cause them to bat an eyelash. 

HONORABLE MENTION: On the second  night of a back-to-back game Zdeno Chara logged 25:32 of ice time, blocked four shots including a couple during a penalty kill that left him shaking his right hand in pain on the bench and threw three hits while holding the high-powered Islanders to just a couple of goals in the game. It wasn’t a particularly dazzling night of work for the 6-foot-9 defenseman, but the Isles really had limited offensive looks thanks to Chara playing big, strong and powerful in the defensive zone. The big ice time number is perhaps most impressive of all coming after Chara also played a big role in Boston’s win over the Habs at the Garden on Wednesday night. We’re still a long way away from Chara proving he can do this kind of thing night after night in the playoffs as a 40-year-old, but he showed a little something on Thursday night. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games with a point for the Bruins as they’ve posted an 11-0-4 record over those games, and matched a 15-game point streak from the 2011-12 season in the year after they won the Cup. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I like the way we closed out the game in the third period. In a back-to-back there were issues at the beginning and ending of the game, and we fought through it and didn’t let the game get away from us. In the third period in their building they were going to make a push, and I thought we were really, really good in terms of generating the offense and keeping the puck away from the front of the net. I was proud of the guys for that. That was a good, strong finish.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN postgame about what we liked most in the 5-2 win over the Isles. 


Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2


Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2

NEW YORK - Patrice Bergeron scored three goals to lead Boston to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night, giving the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game.

Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0-4 since its last regulation loss Dec. 14 against Washington - its best stretch since going 15-0-1 from March 2-30, 2014. Ryan Spooner had a goal and an assist, and Anton Khudobin stopped 22 shots.

Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored for New York, which has dropped seven of 10 - with each of the losses coming in regulation. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves while facing fewer than 35 shots for the first time in his last 11 games.

Bergeron completed his third career hat trick - just 12 days after a four-goal, five-point night at home against Carolina - when he took a pass from Marchand, spun and fired the puck in from the left circle at 3:45 of the third period. It was his 19th goal of the season.

Tavares pulled the Islanders within two with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining with his 25th goal. Marchand capped the scoring with his 20th with just over a minute to go.

Boston won for the second straight night after giving up the first goal of the game in the first period. The Bruins did the same thing in a 4-1 win at home against Montreal on Wednesday night.

In this one, they took control with two goals in the second period and sealed it with two more in the third.

Spooner put Boston ahead 2-1 near the midpoint of the second. Off a faceoff in the Islanders' zone to Halak's left, Spooner backhanded the puck past the goalie for his seventh at 9:47.

Just 15 seconds after New York's Anders Lee was sent off for tripping, Bergeron extended the Bruins' lead to 3-1. After Torey Krug's initial shot went off Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech's leg, Bergeron got the puck on the right side and beat Halak for his 18th of the season with 6:11 left in the middle period. Krug got his 200th career assist.

Eberle got the Islanders on the scoreboard 7:35 into the game. Mathew Barzal intercepted Brandon Carlo's pass in the Bruins' zone and passed to a streaking Eberle, who beat Khudobin from the inside edge of the right circle for his 15th. Barzal got his 32nd assist and 47th point - both tops among all NHL rookies.

The Bruins tied it with 6:19 left in the first when Bergeron took a pass from Marchand and fired it past Halak from the inside edge of the right circle.