What we learned in Bruins' win over Coyotes
What we learned in Bruins' win over Coyotes
Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday night at the start of a three-game road trip out West.
Pastrnak is a star
David Pastrnak is turning into a game-breaking force for the Bruins. Yes, we wrote a feature about him making this very same point this weekend, but it bears repeating as he scored again for another game-winning goal. He’s now scored goals in five of his last six games, and his 10 goals are good for second in the NHL with only Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine lighting the lamp more this season. Pastrnak has scored goals in different ways this season among his ten tallies, but we’ve seen him feature the truly awesome one-timer for the last couple, and that was the weapon again on Saturday night off a perfect dish from Brad Marchand. His release and the missile-like velocity are positively Stamkos-esque, and could give the Bruins something they haven’t truly had in a long time: a pure goal-scorer that’s going to bail them out quite a bit this season as he matures into a star in the league. It’s also going to cost the Bruins some money given that Pastrnak is in the last year of his entry level deal, but that’s another story for another day.
Carlo not a fighter
Brandon Carlo might have some work to do as a fighter. He’s been a revelation as a top pairing defenseman with Zdeno Chara, and he was strong and solid in just about every way while allowing Chara to take some offensive risks that paid off in Saturday night’s win. But he also dropped the gloves for the first time after Brad Richardson made it a point to target him with a pretty high hit, probably something to get in the rookie’s head and also some frustration that Richardson was having an absolutely miserable game. Both players dropped their gloves, and Carlo defended himself largely in WWE-style while locking the smaller Richardson into a headlock that he wasn’t loosening up on. Eventually both players traded quick shots before it was over and I seriously doubt that the Bruins are looking for Carlo to get involved in scraps like this given his value (a plus-11 and 22:26 of ice time per night) to the team. Most important of all, Carlo came out of it health and living to fight another day…or not.
Spooner coming along
Don’t look now, but Ryan Spooner seems to be getting comfortable on the wing as he gels with David Krejci and David Backes. It was Spooner that scored the first goal of the game while jumping in front of the crease, and allowing Zdeno Chara’s shot to glance off him on the way to the back of the net. Spooner has two goals and four points in seven games in the month of November along with a zero plus/minus rating, and he’s topping over 16 minutes of ice time per game. Give credit to both Spooner and Auston Czarnik, who are natural centers that are making a pretty good transition to uncomfortable spots on the wing, and are beginning to produce for a Bruins team that’s starting to look a lot deeper and dangerous than perhaps we originally thought.
Plus: Tuukka Rask
32 saves from Tuukka Rask, who was at his best early in the game as the Bruins were shaking the jetlag cobwebs free after their trip out West. Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand both had turnovers that turned into pretty good chances on Rask, and the B’s goaltender turned away another strong bid from Max Domi in the second period. He was perhaps at his best in the final seconds, though, as he stopped an Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot and then shut down a Jamie McGinn rebound bid at the post to preserve the two points. The Bruins were barely hanging on at the end, and Rask was doing some of his best work.
Plus: Zdeno Chara
A plus-1 and a primary assist in 24:11 of ice time for Zdeno Chara, who made a strong play to set up the Ryan Spooner goal at a time in the second period when the Bruins needed play from somebody. Claude Julien has just challenged the group to step up out of their malaise in a scoreless game, and Chara responded along with the David Krejci line on the ice. Chara had some rough turnovers early, but all in all put together a pretty good game for a 39-year-old playing his fourth game in six days.
Plus: David Pastrnak
Six shot attempts and one sizzling one-timer for the game-winner from David Pastrnak, who leads the Bruins and is second overall in the NHL with 10 goals scored in 13 games this season. He’s turned into a game-breaking force for the Bruins that can erupt for offense at any time in a game against even the best goalies in the league, and those players are worth their weight in gold.
Minus: Brad Richardson
Thanks for coming Brad Richardson: zero shots on net, a minus-1 rating and lost 13-of-15 face-offs in addition to 19-year-old Brandon Carlo locking down into a headlock during a fight that one of the British Bulldogs would have been proud of.
Minus: David Backes
A couple of penalties and a couple of harmless shots on net for David Backes, who wasn’t great while attempting to build on scoring a goal in the win over the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week. Backes was also headed to the front of the net on Ryan Spooner’s goal, but it was the smaller left wing that managed to get into a spot to redirect the puck. Backes wasn’t really all that bad, but he wasn’t all that great either.
Minus: The kids
Lawson Crouse, Jacob Chychrun, Anthony Duclair are all heralded young players for the Coyotes, and I didn’t notice a single one of them in this game. At least Max Domi had a pretty good scoring chance, but Radim Vrbata was the only Coyotes player that really made you sit up and take noticed on Saturday night.