What we learned in Bruins' win over Sabres: Bergeron toughs it out
What we learned: Bergeron toughs it out
Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center on Saturday afternoon.
Bergeron pushes through
Patrice Bergeron is a tough cookie. Okay, we already knew this forevermore after he played through a collapsed lung in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. But Bergeron missed Friday’s practice because he was sick, and it was clear by the way he was moving around that he wasn’t feeling much better on Saturday afternoon at puck drop in Buffalo. But Bergeron stepped in and played anyway for his undermanned Bruins team, and ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period on a Robin Lehner rebound that started bouncing in the air. Bergeron actually had the initial rebound bounce off his hand, and then the center managed to wheel around the back side of the net and jam in his fourth goal of the season at the other post. Bergeron finished with the plus-1 rating with the game-winning goal, two shots on net and lost 21-of-32 face-offs in another indication that he was just grinding through the game. The Bruins don’t win if Bergeron doesn’t cowboy up and decide he was going to play no matter what, so he gets all the credit for that.
Blidh makes debut
Anton Blidh finished his NHL debut with three shots on net and four hits in 10:34 of ice time, and seemed to quickly earn the trust of Claude Julien by playing responsible, two-way hockey with plenty of attitude. Blidh squeezed off some shots, got into a couple of shoving matches and generally made sure that his presence was felt during the game in a solid first outing at the NHL level. It’s more than you could say for the player, Jimmy Hayes, that he replaced in the lineup, who has gone long stretches this season where you’re not even sure whether he’s playing or not. It’s clear at this point that the Bruins are looking for better options than Hayes on a fourth line that needs energy players, and can’t afford to go into the tank as the third line did earlier this season. One could envision Dominic Moore centering a pretty effective fourth line with Blidh and Noel Acciari on either side of him should the Bruins opt to move in that direction in the future. But the bottom line is this with Blidh: it’s just one game that will have to be repeated by the Swedish rookie early and often for the Bruins, but he sure looked like he belonged as a bottom-six contributor.
No slowing Rask
Tuukka Rask is good. Pass it on. At this point Tuukka Rask will factor greatly into the Vezina Trophy conversation later in the season, and he gives the Bruins a chance to win every game where he gets the start. But the Bruins also need to start scoring some goals after posting two goals or less for the 18th time on Saturday afternoon in 25 games this season. Once again the Bruins put up a pretty healthy 33 shots, and really dominated with 25 shot attempts in the first period that turned into just one goal. The Bruins need to finish off more offensive plays, and they might need outside help in that category after watching the current roster players struggle to a 24th place in the NHL in goals scored. It’s clearly a good sign of things to come that both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who have struggled to score this season, were the goal-scorers on Saturday afternoon. But they consistently need more from those players, and just about everybody else, if they’re going to really make a push at anything this season. They can’t come to rely on Tuukka Rask to throw up zeroes all season, and then be left up a creek if those good times stop rolling at some point for any reason.
Plus: Patrice Bergeron
Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal by crashing the net, having the puck bounce wildly off his hand at one side of the net and them slamming it home at the other side of the net. It was a good hustle play from a guy that couldn’t be blamed if he was moving at half-speed after jumping in the lineup from a sick bed. That’s toughness and that’s leadership.
Plus: Anton Blidh
Anton Blidh had an excellent debut throwing four hits and throwing three shots on net in 10 plus minutes of fourth line action. He was energetic and noticeable and looked like the kind of player that could serve a role on this team if he’s given a chance. The Bruins could use some hungrier, feistier players like Blidh, and it was clear after watching him in Buffalo following that sleepy game vs. Carolina.
Plus: Kevan Miller
An excellent game from Kevan Miller, who played 22:48 of ice time while finishing with five shot attempts, a couple of punishing hits and four blocked shots while serving as the hardnosed heart of the Bruins defense. Miller nearly dropped the mitts with Evander Kane at the end of the third period and that would have been worth the price of admission.
Minus: Matt Beleskey
Matt Beleskey was done after 5:27 in the first period following a low hit to his right leg by Buffalo forward Tyler Fedun. It didn’t look like a particularly good hit in the middle of the ice as Beleskey tried to get out of the way at the last minute, and it was clear he was hurt as he gingerly limped off the ice immediately afterward. That’s not what the Bruins needed.
Minus: Zemgus Girgensons
No shots on net and pretty no anything for Zemgus Girgensons in 8:39 of ice time? Wasn’t this guy an All-Star a couple of years ago? What happened?
Minus: Ryan Spooner
No shots on net and no impact on the game for Ryan Spooner in 8:08 of ice time. He was a victim of a shortened bench in a close game in the third period, but didn’t seem like he was skating particularly well in this one early on. One has to wonder if the frustration of a fourth line role, and playing off-position, is really starting to wear on him.