Bruins

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

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Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.

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Talking Points from the Bruins 3-0 win over the Ducks

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AP Photo

Talking Points from the Bruins 3-0 win over the Ducks

Here are my talking points from an excellent shutout win by the Bruins in Anaheim:

GOLD STAR: Excellent game for Jaroslav Halak, who made 30 saves for the Bruins, including a big stop toward the end of the first period where Torey Krug had thrown a blind pass to Max Jones right in the slot area. Jones got off a point blank shot at the Boston net, but Halak stood tall to turn away the premium scoring chance. He was just as good in the second period as he was in the first, with 11 shots against him in each of those periods, and then the Bruins cruised in the third period for the shutout win over Anaheim. Halak hasn’t been great over the last six weeks or so, but he was very good toward the end of the period as the B’s struggled a little bit.

BLACK EYE: A tough night for Adam Henrique, who was a minus-2 in 14:55 of ice time and had just a couple of shots on net in a generally ineffective performance overall. He was also 3-for-10 in the face-off circle as the Ducks forward really didn’t play well in any facet of the game, and instead looked like a Ducks hockey club that’s starting to mail in games given how far they are outside of a playoff spot. He certainly wasn’t alone on the Anaheim roster, though, as they really didn’t muster much in the way of offense while getting shut down offensively by the Bruins.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins simply needed to get off to a good start against the Ducks to get ahead and really discourage a team that’s in a bit of disarray. That’s exactly what the Bruins did when Noel Acciari jumped in front of the net to tip home a Brandon Carlo one-timer blast from the point, and continued when they scored a goal in each of the next two periods while big offensive players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were kept off the scores sheet. It’s always a big deal when the B’s can find a way to scratch out some secondary offense, and that’s exactly what they did against the mighty Ducks on Friday night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Give it to Noel Acciari, who finished with three shots on net and three registered hits in his 14:55 of ice time. Acciari played heavy and physical against a big, strong and heavy Anaheim group, and he also filled in with the offensive side of things as well. He slid in front of the net as Brandon Carlo was winding up and blasting from the point, and his tipped puck got the Bruins ahead for good early in the game. Acciari was also a plus-2 rating and part of a Bruins fourth line that kicked in a pair of goals in the road win when you consider Chris Wagner’s empty net score in the final periods as well.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15-for-18 – Patrice Bergeron didn’t really factor into the scoring so much in Friday’s win over the Ducks, but he was a dominant 15-for-18 in the face-off circle as he did his part for Boston to dominate puck possession.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “You prepare to win every game, but you want to play your best hockey as you go along. It’s just a matter of consistency coming around. We’re starting to see our health coming around, so you can play the same groups every night and they’re getting a feel for one another.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on a Bruins team that’s starting to play some pretty strong hockey. 

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Highlights from Bruins' 3-0 win over Ducks

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Highlights from Bruins' 3-0 win over Ducks

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 3, Ducks 0

IN BRIEF: In the first leg of a five-game West Coast road swing, the Bruins played fast and never got much of a threat from Anaheim, jumping out to a 1-0 first period league and never looking back. Goalie Jaroslav Halak was terrific in net, making some timely saves to pick up his third shutout of the season.

BOX SCORE 

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

Good reward for the Bruins fourth line, with Noel Acciari tipping home a Brandon Carlo point blast. It’s just the second goal of the season for Acciari, who has worked diligently and done the right things without the results always being there. But he was finally rewarded on Friday night with the hard-working goal just as the “fourth line” has been rewarded with more and more ice time as they’ve continued to play good hockey.

Excellent game for Jaroslav Halak, who made 30 saves for the Bruins -- including a big stop toward the end of the first period, where Torey Krug had thrown a blind pass to Max Jones right in the slot area. Jones got off a point blank shot at the Boston net, but Halak stood tall to turn away the premium scoring chance. He was just as good in the second period as he was in the first, and then the Bruins cruised in the third period for the shutout win over Anaheim. Halak hasn’t been great over the last six weeks or so, but he was very good toward the end of the period as the B’s struggled a little bit.

David Krejci continues to excel while filling in for David Pastrnak on that top Bruins power play unit. He made a couple of plays from that spot in the first game without Pastrnak on Tuesday night, and he once again dangled through the Ducks penalty kill to set up Jake DeBrusk for a tap-in power play goal in the second period on Friday night. He scored on a one-timer in the first game to show that his shot can be effective from the face-off circle, but it’s his hands and playmaking that could set him apart there as they did in the insurance marker for the Black and Gold. 

BRUINS RECORD: 33-17-8 (74 points), 3rd in Atlantic Division

⬇️ HIGHLIGHTS ⬇️

HALAK CAN'T BE BEAT

CARLO FIRES, ACCIARI GETS A PIECE

DEBRUSK CRASHES THE NET

WAGNER'S EMPTY-NETTER SEALS IT

UP NEXT
SATURDAY: at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. (NESN)
MONDAY: at San Jose, 10 p.m. (NESN)
WEDNESDAY: at Vegas, 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)

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