Bruins

Bruins go away from hot hand, start Rask tonight vs. Stars

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Bruins go away from hot hand, start Rask tonight vs. Stars

BRIGHTON, Mass – One might have thought that the Bruins would ride Jaroslav Halak given the way he’s played between the pipes recently.

One would be wrong as Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice at Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and will be the starting goalie against Tyler Seguin and the red-hot Dallas Stars at TD Garden. Rask hasn’t played in over a week dating back to an Oct. 27 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, so it seems clear the B’s are starting him so he doesn’t gather too much rust just one month into the season.

Bruce Cassidy said following Monday’s practice that it wasn’t difficult to go with Rask given the relative business of the B’s schedule, but Rask clearly hasn’t seized his playing time with a 3-3-0 record, 3.15 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

“It’s not tonight,” said Cassidy, when asked if it was a difficult call going with Rask over a white hot Halak after the backup stopped 39 of 40 shots in a 1-0 loss to Nashville last weekend. “With five games in the stretch, there’s no way Halak would be on for all five games even if he pitched a shutout. It just wouldn’t happen. It’s just too early in the year to tax a goalie. It will be a little more difficult [of a decision] as the week goes on depending on how everybody plays. But Tuukka is in tonight, and he’s well-rested and ready to go.”

Halak, on the other hand, leads the NHL with a 1.45 goals-against average and .952 save percentage and has been a godsend for the Black and Gold, who have hit a rough patch offensively of late. It would seem to be a mistake to not go with Halak given that the Bruins don’t play again until Thursday and instead ride the hot hand with their backup until he inevitably cools down.

At this point in the season, it would make sense for the Bruins to bank points with the sure bet in net, given the state of their offense, and then worry about sitting Rask for too long at a later point. Still, that’s clearly not the route that Cassidy and the Bruins are going with a feeling it’s still too early in the season to roll with one guy between the pipes.

If there's a kind of coach's decision that's ripe for second-guessing this early in the season, this could be one of them. 

Instead, it will be Halak most likely on Thursday against the Canucks and perhaps again Saturday night against the Maple Leafs, with Rask seemingly earmarked for a Sunday night home game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

With Rask as the starter on Monday night, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings with Anton Blidh called as a precaution just in case Chris Wagner (lower body) can’t go for the fourth line tonight:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Nordstrom-Krejci-DeBrusk

Heinen-Backes-Bjork

Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-Moore

Lauzon-Kampfer

 
Rask

 

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Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

GOLD STAR: David Krejci missed a couple of games with an upper-body injury, but made sure he returned for this final game ahead of the 10-day break for All-Star weekend and the bye week. And Krejci was a difference-maker. He scored the game-winner in the third period when he popped in a rebound of a Brandon Carlo point shot. 

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Krejci finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating with 18:04 of ice time, one shot on net, one takeaway and one blocked shots along with 6 of 12 face-off wins while centering Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on a new-look line. It remains to be seen how the forward groups will be divided up when the Bruins come back from break, but things worked out pretty well in the 3-2 victory over Vegas on Tuesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins won the game, but did it in spite of a power play that struggled mightily. 

The B's man-advantage went 0-for-5 on the power play against a Vegas team that’s stepped up its aggressiveness on the penalty kill. Boston managed just three shots on net in all that time on the man-advantage. 

They still won in spite of it all, obviously, but the B’s special teams were lousy with a powerless power play and a penalty kill that allowed a PP goal to the Golden Knights. 

Now, the Bruins' power play gets 10 days to re-energize and perhaps figure out a few new tricks.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins trailed 2-1 headed into the third period and it didn’t appear it was going to be their night. Still, they managed to summon a little extra effort in that final 20 minutes, outshot Vegas 14-13 and scored a pair of goals to win in regulation rather than risk another overtime or shootout loss.

It was Jake DeBrusk who scored on a left-wing rush to tie things up in the third and then Krejci who won it in the final few minutes before the Golden Knights got desperate by pulling their goalie. It was certainly a different tack for the B’s in this one. Rather than blowing a lead as they’d done a few times over the past couple of weeks, they rallied in the third to win it. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Good job by Jeremy Lauzon to step up and fill in at a time when the Bruins needed a little more physical thump. Even better, Lauzon managed to score his second career NHL goal on a deep point shot that traveled through a few Vegas bodies on its way to the net for Boston’s first score. 

Lauzon finished with the goal along with a plus-2 rating, two shot attempts, four registered hits and a blocked shot in 15:38 of ice time while also filling a lead role on the penalty kill. Considering it was Lauzon’s first NHL appearance of the season, it was very good with the physical, gritty play that could lead to more looks this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22:53 – the Bruins leading ice time player was Brad Marchand among forwards and defensemen in a game that featured plenty of special-teams situations.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We did some good things [in] this first stretch. Enjoy yourself and get away wherever you’re going, mentally cleanse. But understand that [when] we get back, we get at it pretty quick.” –Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on his message to his Bruins players headed into the 10-day break.

Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

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Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

The Boston Bruins are often carried by the efforts of The Perfection Line. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak had accounted for 79 of the team's 166 goals entering Tuesday night's game and were a massive part of their hot start to the season.

But secondary scoring is important as well. And in particular, Jake DeBrusk getting goals tends to have a really positive impact on the Bruins.

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According to the "Boston Sports Info" Twitter account, the Bruins are a remarkable 44-5-1 when DeBrusk scores in the regular season.

And in the playoffs, the Bruins are 6-3 when DeBrusk scores at least once. 

DeBrusk was a key for the Bruins in their 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night. He scored the tying goal for the team early in the third period to afford them the opportunity to come from behind to win.

Moving forward, DeBrusk's scoring will be important. The Bruins are simply better when he produces goals and when the second line can impact the game. If this is the start of a hot streak for him, it could coincide with the B's getting hot.

Of course, they'll have to get through a lengthy All-Star break before that can happen. The Bruins won't play again until Jan. 31 when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets.