Talking points

TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

GOLD STAR: Got to give it to Tuukka Rask, who made 31 saves overall and stopped 21-of-22 shots in the first couple of periods while the Bruins were getting their footing after the news that Patrice Bergeron wasn’t going to play. He stoned Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in the first period, unlike the ones he scored on twice in Game 3, and made another save on a breakaway in the second period just before the Bruins were able to break the tie. There were plenty of moments early in the game when the Bruins were hemmed in or having difficulty generating any kind of offensive possession, and Rask was their best player through all of it. We’ve often said that Rask has to prove it in big games, and this may prove to the biggest game of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Rask was at the top of the list for getting it done for the Black and Gold tonight.

BLACK EYE: The Leafs actually played a pretty good game all things considered, but if you need to pin some blame on somebody, then give it to William Nylander. He played on a top line that got outplayed by Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when it really mattered. Nylander only had one shot with most of his attempts coming from a good distance away from the net. He was a minus-2 and hasn’t really showed much of anything in the series to date. At least Auston Matthews was winning face-offs, generating offense and was a threat early in the game, but Nylander didn’t really do much to make himself noticeable in a gritty, hard-fought game that meant a ton to both teams. It’s indicative of a Leafs hockey club that probably needs to mature a little bit before they’re ready to truly make a deep run in the playoffs.

TURNING POINT: Clearly it was the Brad Marchand goal in the second period, but not because it was a really nice goal. It was because the Maple Leafs probably thought they had the Bruins right where they wanted them after a long shift with an icing and a defensive zone face-off, but instead, the B’s flipped the script on Toronto. They took advantage of a bunch of overeager kids on the ice, as Riley Nash won the draw and Adam McQuaid flipped the puck up the ice, turning it into a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak fed a no-look pass to Marchand for a shot at the vacated net, and the rest was history for the Black and Gold in a game they most definitely needed to win if they wanted to capture the series.

HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Nash didn’t end up on the score sheet, but give him all kinds of credit for stepping up and filling in at the last minute with Bergeron a last-minute scratch from the lineup. It was Nash that won the D-zone face-off after an icing call at the end of a long shift, and he worked the puck to Adam McQuaid for the stretch play that turned into the game-winning goal. In all, Nash played 19:10 of ice time, had a shot on net, a hit, a blocked shot and a giveaway while playing between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He battled his way to 12-of-25 face-off wins. In actuality, Nash had half the wins in the face-off circle for the entire team and was exactly the kind of solid player Boston needed to step in and have a calming influence on that top line. They weren’t spectacular, but they made the plays when it mattered.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-5-2 – the Bruins record this season when Patrice Bergeron is out of the lineup, which is a testament to their overall depth and how well Riley Nash has played in his place this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We tried to weather the storm and bring a storm of our own. We got the first goal tonight and that was a big thing. I think every team that’s scored first in the series has won.” –Jake DeBrusk, on the different ways the Bruins have combatted any home-ice advantage while they were in Toronto.


Pastrnak makes history in Game 2 vs Maple Leafs

Pastrnak makes history in Game 2 vs Maple Leafs

BOSTON -- The talking points from the Bruins' 7-3 victory over the Maple Leafs Saturday, which gives them a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series:

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak isn’t just dominating, he’s making history. Pastrnak is the first Bruin to put up six points (three goals, three assists) in a single playoff game since Rick Middleton in 1983, and, at age 21 (he won't turn 22 until May 25) is the youngest player ever in the NHL to post nine points through the first two games of a Stanley Cup postseason. Pastrnak was flashy and electric, with dangling flare, while scoring the goals that both opened and closed Boston’s scoring, and he completely broke open a game that the Maple Leafs really had to have. The first goal was an athletic show of great hands after a Torey Krug cross-ice pass was knocked up in the air: Pastrnak collected the puck in the slot, immediately dangled around Frederik Andersen and then snapped a shot into the empty net. Pastrnak finished with the three goals, six points and a plus-5 rating in 15:46 of ice time along with four shots on net, and is going to be front and center in the NHL world now while doing all of this against Toronto. 


BLACK EYE: Andersen has been pretty bad through the first two games of the series, and looks like a goaltender who might have been ridden a little too hard during the regular season. He allowed five goals in Game 1 on Thursday night, giving up rebounds and surrendering a bad-angle David Krejci shot that was banked off his back and into the net. It was a lot worse on Saturday night in Game 2, as Andersen gave up three goals on the first five shots he faced, and then was pulled for the night. Only one of the three was really his fault, but the Leafs would have needed him to be superhuman in order to make a difference in such a poor team defensive effort on Saturday night. The question is whether Andersen is truly fatigued, or just having a really rought start to the series. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins came out of the gate strong after weathering a very small mini-storm from Toronto to start the game, and scored four goals in the first period before the Leafs even got their footing. The first two goals arrived in the first half of the first period, and then the final two first-period scores came within three minutes of each other. The Bruins ended the period outshooting the Leafs by just an 8-6 margin, but it was all about making the right plays at the right times to take a lead they weren’t going to surrender. Interesting that the B's had struggled to get early leads in their final handful of regular-season games, but have jumped out to big early leads in each of their first two playoff games this spring. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Krug has been on the delivering end of a number of very good passes that have helped set up Boston’s offense over the first two playoff games. On Saturday it was his cross-ice pass that was slightly deflected before it landed on Pastrnak’s stick that set up the game's first goal. On the power play, he centered a pass to Jake DeBrusk for Boston’s second goal, then fed Rick Nash for another score.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20 – the number of points for the Brad Marchand/Patrice Bergeron/Pastrnak line in just two games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Six points in a Stanley Cup Playoff game with a hat trick? That’s special.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the big night forPastrnak.


Talking Points: Marchand in the midst of it all

Talking Points: Marchand in the midst of it all

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand got things off and running with the Bruins, and was at his best after answering questions over the last couple of days about his lack of goals in the postseason. He scored the game’s first goal when he took a dish from Torey Krug on the PP and elevated a backhander over Frederik Andersen in close to the net, and then turned into the whirling dervish in the corner before dishing to David Pastrnak in the second period for the insurance goal that really put it out of reach for the Maple Leafs. In all Marchand finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 rating in 17:56 of ice time, six shot attempts and three hits along with a 4-for-6 performance in the face-off circle when Patrice Bergeron kept getting kicked out of the circle. Even better Marchand nuzzled up to Leo Komarov in front of the benches after giving him a smooch on the cheek in a regular season game in Boston earlier this season, and was at his agitating best with the hard-hitting Leafs forward. Marchand produced, he played in control and he agitated the crap out of the Leafs in a performance worthy of one of the best players in the league.

BLACK EYE: Nazem Kadri was the bozo for the night for the Maple Leafs. Not only did the Toronto forward fail to register a shot on net or do anything meaningful in the game, but he also compounded it by throwing a reckless, cheap shot hit on Tommy Wingels in the third period. Kadri was whacked with a five minute major for charging, a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for boarding, and launched from his skates while clearly targeting a vulnerable player in Wingels that was on his knees against the boards. It was a punk move to say the least, but it’s also one that looks like it might be carrying a hefty suspension right along with it. That would be a major blow to Toronto and would certainly fit Kadri with a pair of goat horns if the series gets away from the Leafs.

TURNING POINT: The big moment for the Bruins was killing a pair of second period Toronto power plays in a game that was still tied at 1-1, with Zdeno Chara in the box for the first penalty and then playing the full two minutes on the power play for the second one. Once the Bruins had effectively killed off those power plays, they crushed whatever momentum Toronto had built up and then went about scoring a couple more goals to start putting things out of reach. But it was still a 1-1 game in the second period and things very much hung in the balance when all of that pushed and tested the Bruins, and they showed they were up to the challenge in a resounding way. By the time the period was over, the B’s had outshot the Leafs by a 16-11 margin and had full control of the proceedings.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be David Pastrnak. He finished with a goal and three points, a plus-1 rating and 10 shot attempts in his 16:02 of ice time, and busted the game wide open with a couple different plays. First there was the goal in the second period on a wrist shot from the slot after he wasn’t able to score on the one-timer, and the Bruins top line had basically turned things into a shooting gallery against a weak Toronto defense. Even better was the rush toward the net that Frederik Andersen somehow stopped in the third period, but Sean Kuraly was able to bat home the insurance goal to ice the game in the final 20 minutes. Pastrnak had his ups and downs in last season’s first playoff experience, but he was ready to go on Thursday night for Game 1.

BY THE NUMBERS: 30-2-6 – the Bruins record this season when they score first against opponents, which again portended very good things in their big Game 1 win over Toronto.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We know we can play winning hockey in the third period. You’ve got to go out there and do it, but we’re comfortable in those games and we did it in the third.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the B’s ability to finish off the Leafs with a strong third period after holding a 3-1 lead.