What we learned: Krejci line pulling its weight
What we learned: Krejci line pulling its weight
Here’s what we learned from the Bruins 2-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night.
Second line bringing offense
The David Krejci line continues to pick up the offensive slack for the Bruins. It’s almost as if on cue with Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak slowing down ever so slightly, that Krejci and crew have finally started generating a healthy level of offense. In the Sunday night win, that line was responsible for both goals scored and was consistently generating long, quality shifts with pressure in the offensive zone. David Krejci scored his second goal of the season, and the Dominic Moore empty netter was scored when he was filling in for Ryan Spooner on the wing as the Bruins protected a slim one-goal lead.
Second pairing strong
The Bruins are really playing some extremely good hockey right now. The lines are coming together, the Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing has really stabilized as the second pair and Tuukka Rask has been as dominant as he’s been all year. But the truth of the matter is that the Bruins outshot the Avalanche by a 45-21 margin in the second night of a back-to-back with travel to a different time zone, and that’s no easy feat for a team playing its fifth game in the last seven days. A great deal of this probably has to do with Krug and David Krejci finally getting back into form after their offseason surgeries, David Backes getting healthy again and the Bruins replacing Jimmy Hayes with Austin Czarnik on the third line where they could make use of his speed and skill level. Put it all together and the B’s have really started gelling as a team while playing the best hockey of the season, and doing it while the schedule conspired against them to potentially take them down a notch or two. So for the week for the Bruins took eight out of a possible ten points while playing a stretch with two back-to-backs within the seven day period, and the only loss was the defeat in Montreal where they outshot the Habs 43-23 and probably deserved to win if it weren’t for a tough rebound surrendered by Zane McIntyre in the closing minute of the game. The Bruins still aren’t perfect and the Canadiens were probably the only “good” team that Boston played during that stretch of five games in seven days, but still give credit where it’s due when it looks like the Black and Gold are going to steam into US Thanksgiving in pretty solid playoff position. Don’t look now, but the Bruins are in second place in the Atlantic Division behind just those very-same Canadiens with things trending in a pretty decent direction.
Rask No. 1 star
Tuukka Rask has been named the No. 1 Star for the week, and that’s a no-brainer given the way he’s performed behind the Bruins defense. He was 4-0-0 with a 0.75 goals against average and .970 save percentage with two shutouts in the four games played during the five games in seven days stretch, and did it all while continuing to heal from a lower body injury that dogged him early in the season. Clearly some of this is about the Bruins playing much better defense in front of Rask, and he talked about that after the B’s vastly outplayed the Avalanche in their Sunday night showdown. But some of it was also about Rask going to a more athletic, unpredictable style between the pipes that has opponents guessing a little bit more, and has him ready when things do break down in front of him. He just looks a little more competitive in certain situations where last year it looked like he was sticking to strict, unbending technique that didn’t work behind a defense that made its share of mistakes. So Rask is perhaps a little more ready for the breakdowns this season, but he’s also enjoying the fact that the Bruins again have a legit shutdown pair in Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo, and the other D-pairings have improved as well in recent weeks.
Plus: Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask gets his third shutout of the season while making 21 saves, and doing everything he needs to do behind a strong defense. But the 4-0-0 record with 0.75 goals against average and a .970 save percentage speak for themselves, and Rask has been nothing short of dominant throughout the early portion of the season for the Bruins.
Plus: Adam McQuaid
Adam McQuaid was strong in arguably his best game since coming back from injury: five shot attempts in 20:09 of ice time, a plus-2 rating while on ice for both goals for and the play in the neutral zone that helped set up David Krejci’s first period goal. Even if he didn’t get a point on the score sheet for it, we noticed it and that’s plenty of reward for No. 54.
Plus: David Krejci
David Krejci scored the game-winning goal, four shots on net and a plus-2 rating along with the second goal of the season, and even blocked three shots in his 17:56 of ice time. He has looked pretty close to full power for a few weeks now, so I think it’s safe to assume he’s fully back from his offseason hip surgery.
Minus: Rene Bourque
Rene Bourque finished with a shot on net and a hit with zero presence while racking a minus-2 rating in 17:25 of ice time, and doesn’t seem like he’s going to live up to the tradition of NHL Bourques with the Avalanche.
Minus: Matt Beleskey
No hits and no shots on net in 16:38 of ice time for Matt Beleskey, who has been on a good stretch lately for the Black and Gold. That didn’t continue against Colorado where he looked like the pre-scratch version of Beleskey.
Minus: Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen was another player that’s had some hype given that he’s a promising young player, but did pretty much nothing in 19:36 of ice time for a Colorado team that didn’t do much of anything against what should have been a dog-tired Bruins bunch.