Bruins

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Canadiens

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Canadiens

GOLD STAR: He only played 9:04 of ice time, but the return of David Backes made a difference for the Boston Bruins. The 35-year-old was able to put a great one-timer shot on a picture-perfect David Krejci pass from the half-wall and roofed it past Carey Price for the powerplay game-winning goal in the third period. Never mind that it was Backes’ first goal of the season, but to have that kind of timing and ability to put everything on that shot after not playing for a month was pretty impressive stuff.

Backes finished with a goal, three shots on net, five shot attempts and a couple of hits while going 3-for-3 on face-offs and showed that he’s going to be able to help this Bruins team when healthy and armed with his good skating legs. It was simply a feel-good moment for Backes and the Bruins after enduring a rough month following his nasty collision with Scott Sabourin on the ice.

BLACK EYE: Somehow Claude Julien was complaining about it after the game, but Nick Cousins’ holding play on Torey Krug to set up the game-winner in the offensive was as dumb as it was the right call. Then to add insult to injury it was Cousins that played half-hearted defense in front of the net on the give-and-go play with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle to allow an insurance score for the Black and Gold.

Aside from those two hideous plays in the third period, Cousins with a minus-1 and one shot on net in 16:09 of completely non-descript play in the game. When it mattered, though, Cousins screwed up a couple of times and played a big role in the Habs imploding in the final 20 minutes of the game. But he certainly wasn’t alone on a sinking ship that’s lost eight games in a row.

TURNING POINT: Just a few minutes before David Pastrnak got the Bruins on the board in the third period, Brendan Gallagher was all alone on a breakaway after a disastrous turnover by Charlie McAvoy while Montreal held a 1-0 lead. Tuukka Rask got his body on the forehand bid from Gallagher to make certain it stayed a one-goal game for the Bruins and roughly three minutes later Pastrnak had scored and tied things up at one apiece.

It was part of a strong 28-save night for Rask overall, but it was a massive save at an important time in the game that helped set up three straight goals for the B’s in the third period to take the two points away from the Habs.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak now has 25 goals on Dec. 1, which is a pretty thing in and of itself. But it’s also how he scored flying up the wing and zinging one past Carey Price from the face-off dot off the rush and then kick-starting the B’s offense with his game-breaking ability. Once Pastrnak scored it seemed like the B’s got things into gear and the rest of the offense followed.

Perhaps most impressive of all, though, was No. 88 continuing to play hard even as big-bodied Habs players like Joel Armia and Shea Weber were taking big-time physical shots at him. It’s clear as he continues to score that other teams are going to target him physically and they did on Sunday night. But Pastrnak played through it, scored his goal as payback in the third period and finished with six shot attempts and a couple of hits in 20:37 of ice time.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games on home ice with a point to start the season for the Bruins. The B’s are 11-0-4 at TD Garden this season in the best streak in franchise history since they started the year 19-0-2 all the way back in 1973-74.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think you see it on my face. That was elation.” –David Backes on scoring the game-winning goal for the Bruins in the third period after sitting out the previous 13 games with a concussion.

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

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Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

BOSTON – It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got burned for playing like they could flick on a third period switch and beat everybody across the NHL.

After a number of third period comebacks and salvaged points over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins couldn’t pull the same trick against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the first regulation loss on home ice for the Bruins this season at TD Garden and it was exactly what Boston deserved after managing just nine shots on net in the first two periods while making some simple mistakes that led to goals against at inopportune times.

“For us, [it was a] lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that is definitely in our game early on. If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We go back with it and all of a sudden [it’s in the net]. We win a faceoff to start a period and we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and there’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations, and live with the result.

“[It] doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us. They’re good teams. We got away with it for a while here, good for us, right? It’s a results-oriented business. But against the better teams, I think at some point, they will close out games. [The loss to the Avs] was a great example of that.”

The Heinen play really was the killer as it came midway through the second period, led to the Bruins running around in their own end and then ended with Ian Cole rocketing a slap shot past Jaroslav Halak from the top of the face-off circle. Then Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk botched defensive coverage in transition at the end of the second period, and that led to Andre Burakovsky scoring the insurance goal right at the end of the period.

At that point, it was over despite Boston outshooting Colorado by a 12-6 margin in the third period, and the Bruins have to hope that it was a lesson learned at this point. It may take a few games for the Bruins to snap out of some of their current bad habits, but there’s also that overall malaise that might be an unavoidable part of the team’s commanding 13-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

That being said, Brad Marchand spoke for all of Boston’s team leadership in knowing that the current state of being for the Black and Gold isn’t something that can sustainably bring success.

“It’s a losing game. You can’t continue to go down by a couple of goals, especially to good teams,” said Marchand. “Teams like that know how to win and how to keep a lead. No matter how many times you come back, it’s going to eventually catch up to you. We’ve had that, especially early on [in games]. We tend to be much better when we’re behind. I think then it’s a bit of a wakeup call and we all have to play good in order to come back.

“But we have to play that way from the first shift of the first period. If you want to win, if you want to be a good team and if you want to have a chance in the playoffs, you have to be able to do that all game along. It’s tough sometimes because the season can get long. That’s no excuse. We have to realize the mistakes that we’re making and improve if want to continue to get better. That’s what good teams do.”

It would behoove the Bruins to get things in order quickly with a slate of important games over the next week including a mid-week tilt with the Washington Capitals, and a pair of divisional games against Tampa Bay and Florida later on in the week. But there really isn’t any worry coming from the B’s about anybody distantly trailing them in the standings right now while 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall.

Instead it’s about the Bruins themselves becoming the best hockey team that they can be and getting back into a groove where they are paying attention to details and doing the little things that lead to winning hockey.  

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