Bruins

Bruins batter the Cup champs

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Bruins batter the Cup champs

GOLD STAR: David Krejci continues to look like a different player with a top flight power forward like Rick Nash by his side. Krejci got his first hat trick in exactly six years for the Bruins, and has helped power the Bruins offense without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup for the last couple of games. Krejci finished with the three goals, a plus-1 rating in 16:25 of ice time, three shots on net, five shot attempts, one hit and a 6-for-15 performance in the face-off circle. Most impressive was probably his two power play goals that really helped the man advantage get back on track, and were scored because he was going hard to the net where the goals are scored at this time of year. The biggest reason the Bruins performed this way against the Penguins sans Bergeron is because Krejci came to play.

BLACK EYE: Casey DeSmith was brutal while trying to step in for the injured Matt Murray and it really sunk the Bruins before they could even get going. DeSmith gave up three goals on the first five shots that he faced and was out of the game before the six minute mark in the first period. Certainly the Penguins weren’t very good in front of their backup goaltender either, but it can’t give Pittsburgh much hope they can excel without their No. 1 when the two backups are giving up five goals in the first period to the Boston Bruins. It’s a tough break for the former UNH goalie that’s getting his chance in the NHL right now, but Mike Sullivan had seen enough after a couple of fluky goals got by him early in the game. That can’t happen at this time of year, and a young goalie won’t get the benefit of the doubt like Tuukka Rask got with Bruce Cassidy after his own tough first period.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have been in a tough spot after allowing a goal in the final seconds of the first period that closed it to a two-goal game for the Penguins. Tuukka Rask wasn’t very good in the opening 20 minutes and it appeared no lead was going to be safe with the fire-wagon hockey that was going on between both sides. But Brian Dumoulin took a holding call just 28 seconds into the second period and the Bruins power play made the Penguins pay like they really haven’t over the last month. Jake DeBrusk worked to keep a puck alive in the offensive end, and Nick Holden found David Krejci wide open in front for a goal that again widened things to a three-goal lead. The Bruins never really looked back again after that.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak had been pretty quiet offensively as of late, but it was incumbent on him to step up now that Patrice Bergeron is going to be out of the lineup for a little while. That’s exactly what he did on Thursday night while scoring a pair of goals, notching three points, a plus-1 rating and nine shot attempts in 15:13 of ice time for the Bruins. It was his fluttering, fluke goal in the first period that eventually helped chase Casey DeSmith from the game, and it was No. 88 that again punctuated things late in the proceedings when the Bruins were piling up the offensive numbers. The real encouraging thing was that Pastrnak wasn’t just scoring, but battling for pucks and tossing his weight around a little in a very physical game against the Penguins.

BY THE NUMBERS: 300 – the number of career assists for Brian Gionta after his first helper on the David Backes goal in the first period. Gionta finished with two assists in the game, so now he has 301 apples in his extensive NHL career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “They’ve fit in seamlessly. You’ve got veteran guys that have been in other locker rooms. I can’t speak to whether they’re good or bad or in different locker rooms. I know that ours is terrific when it comes to our leadership. I think our young guys have really helped it, as well because they bring a lot of energy. They all have their own personality, but they’re respectful. They want to learn from these veteran guys. So [We’ve got] that mix in there.” –Bruce Cassidy, on how the new guys have worked into the Bruins mix since the trade deadline.  

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Talking Points: Torey Krug steps up the physicality, shows leadership in Bruins win

Talking Points: Torey Krug steps up the physicality, shows leadership in Bruins win

GOLD STAR: He didn’t factor in the scoring at all, but credit Torey Krug as one of the Bruins leaders that stepped up and showed some attitude in a needed win over the Penguins.

It was Krug that got into a shoving match with Patric Hornqvist in front of the bench, and then continued it with a hockey fight after they both got out of the penalty box.

Krug finished with six shot attempts and a takeaway in 16:06 of ice time, but it was really a team-wide showing of physicality and attitude that elevated the game of the Bruins and got them back into the winning flow against Pittsburgh. Krug was one of the key guys that got them there even as he was an unlikely 5-foot-8 combatant that won his bout with the sandpaper-playing Hornqvist.

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BLACK EYE: Evgeni Malkin was pretty invisible for the Penguins in this one. He was challenged early and often by Zdeno Chara in the game and that seemed to render him pretty ineffective after that point against the Bruins.

Malkin finished pointless with a minus-2 rating and had a whopping three giveaways over his 19:21 of ice time. It was a harmless little swipe at Jaroslav Halak in the first period that really started setting things off as Chara grabbed Malkin and roughed him up in the corner afterward. That started the two big-bodied players going at each other for the better part of the evening.

Most times Malkin is going to lose that battle as he did on Thursday night.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins fell down by a 1-0 score early in the game as Sidney Crosby scored in the opening minute, and that could have been a big time problem on another night. But the Bruins were determined to make this a prolonged, invested all-around effort right from the drop of the puck. They did exactly that when they fought back to tie the game, and then go ahead by a goal when Par Lindholm redirected a Karson Kuhlman pass down low.

The Bruins outshot the Penguins 12-10 in the period and overcame the early deficit with some hard-nosed, determined physical play and some digging in by their bottom two lines coming up with a couple of goals in the secondary scoring department. Once they did that they had the momentum on their side.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak had been struggling a little bit of late, but he pulled together after allowing a bad goal in the first period to the Penguins.

Halak stopped 29-of-30 shots and was brilliant at the end of the second period when the Penguins went on a 2-on-none shorthanded breakaway with Halak making four different saves to keep Pittsburgh from tying up the game. He stoned Zach Aston-Reese at least four different times with point blank chances from the front of the net and never buckled even as the B’s broke down just a little bit.

Halak's performance is a good sign that he is going to backstop the B’s to some good things as he’ll be given the starting nod for a few games in a row with Rask (concussion) on the shelf right now.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of registered hits for Chris Wagner on the stat sheet, which is kind of ridiculous given that the fourth line winger threw at least four or five of them in a tremendously physical game against the Penguins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought tonight was a pretty good first step to getting back to who we are.” –Bruce Cassidy on the B’s overall effort in a 4-1 win over the Penguins.

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

Arguably the most explosive talent in the NHL resides at the right wing position where the top two players (David Pastrnak and Patrick Kane) are on pace to easily cross 40 goals and 100 points this season, and the third player is last year’s Hart Trophy winner.

There’s also the amazing young talent at the NHL’s right wing spot with players under 25 years old that include Pastrnak, Brock Boeser, Andrei Svechnikov, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Travis Konecny.

In other words, this is a stacked list that doesn’t even include Patrick Laine. These are the top-10 right wings in the NHL right now.

Click here for Joe Haggerty's full right wing rankings