BOSTON – The Bruins have been able to successfully bounce back from adversity all season, so it was no surprise they did it again on Saturday afternoon.
Proving that a sluggish, heavy-legged loss to Carolina earlier this week was an aberration, the Bruins checked just about every box on the way to a solid, all-around 3-1 win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.
The Bruins scored the game’s first goal, a power play strike from Loui Eriksson, while getting off to an overall great start. They also enjoyed timely goaltending from Tuukka Rask at the end of the second period. Rask had a couple huge saves among his 24 stops for the game and they limited the Isles to just a single goal in another strong defensive effort. It was very much in line with the majority of the seven strong games the Bruins have played since improving their roster at the NHL trade deadline.
But it also had the distinct feeling like the Bruins were making a strong point in rebounding from a loss.
“I thought that early in the season we were, you know, trying to find those kinds of bounce-back games. They were not always there and we were kind of looking for, you know, what kind of team we were going to be and how we were going to be handling those situations as this season is moving forward,” said Zdeno Chara. “We’ve been challenged so many times with so many ups and downs that it seems like we are finding that way to battle through tight games, and playing tough opponents, and keeping the game going while waiting for other teams to break.”
The resiliency is a quality the Bruins have shown throughout the season while avoiding the prolonged losing streaks that have dogged fellow teams in the Eastern Conference. The B’s haven’t enjoyed a nine-game winning streak like the just-concluded hot stretch for the Tampa Bay Lightning, or the lengthy winning streak that the Florida Panthers enjoyed while shooting to the top of the Atlantic Division earlier this season.
The B’s have only had one five-game winning streak this season, the most victories in a row they’ve been able to piece together amid the sea of wins and losses through 69 regular season games. On the other hand, the Bruins haven’t lost more than three games in a row this season either, and that’s pretty impressive considering some of weak spots on their roster throughout this season.
“A lot of that has to do with the veteran core, but also as a team we haven’t gone on these big winning streaks like a lot of teams have, whether it’s the Tampa’s or Florida’s or others that have won nine or ten in a row,” said Claude Julien. “But we haven’t lost eight or nine in a row either, so we have been pretty consistent. You don’t like to lose too many games in a row, and I think for the most part we have done a decent job of that. We have taken a different route, I guess, than some of those other teams that are up there, but it’s worked for us.”
It’s more than worked well for the Bruins, of course. It’s allowed them to rise all the way to the top spot in the Atlantic Division for the first time late in the season as the steady, slow rising hockey team outdistancing some of their boom-or-bust peers.