Bruins

Morning Skate: Bruins "stand on shaky ground," in Atlantic Division

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Morning Skate: Bruins "stand on shaky ground," in Atlantic Division

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while everybody is literally working for the weekend right now. Loverboy, please take a bow from wherever you are in Canada!

-- The Bruins “stand on shaky ground” within the Atlantic Division right now, according to Pro Hockey Talk in an offseason overview of the division. Yes and no. Certainly they look third best behind Toronto and Tampa, and that could become an even more distant gap if the Lightning were to somehow land Erik Karlsson in the next few months.

But we’re also talking about a team that racked up 112 points last season, has a large wealth of young players and prospects and featured the best line in the NHL last season with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. They are not on shaky ground within a division that features bad teams in Ottawa, Montreal, Detroit and Buffalo, and only the Florida Panthers as the kind of team that could rise up and challenge for a playoff spot. Did they get better in the offseason? Sure they did in a very incremental way. But they still seem like a lock for the third spot in the Atlantic and a playoff team, and perhaps even more if they can swing the right deal for a goal-scoring winger at some point over the next six months or so.

-- Congrats to Jarome Iginla on an excellent Hall of Fame career as he prepares to announce his retirement at the start of next week. He was an excellent throwback kind of power forward and a rugged competitor, and was a complete gentleman off the ice during his season that I covered him in Boston. He did seem to make some poor choices on the teams he joined up with later in his career – like eschewing the Bruins for the Penguins in 2013 at the trade deadline -- in the ultimately unsuccessful quest for a Cup, but that doesn’t take away from the consistency and class that defined his NHL body of work.

-- Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz says that he’s going to keep faith in his people running the hockey organization, but it sure does feel like they need a change. Just like the Bruins needed a change from Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien a few years ago.

-- Dylan Larkin looks to improve next season after building up a solid career arc over his first four years with the Detroit Red Wings.

-- Dean Lombardi might have been in the running for a management position with the Vancouver Canucks, but his current contract with the Philadelphia Flyers precluded that from happening.

-- For something completely different: I need more stories about this video beatdown in a Vegas McDonald’s like I need air to breath. It’s the Jerry Springer show come to life.

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Bruins grind their way to a win in Arizona

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Bruins grind their way to a win in Arizona

Here are some talking points from the Bruins' 2-1 win over the Coyotes on Saturday night. . .

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk ended up getting the game-winning goal in the first period when he and Brad Marchand played the two-man game on a rush up the ice. Marchand was able to crash the net and get the first shot on Darcy Kuemper. The Arizona goalie made the initial save, but then DeBrusk crashed the net and fired home the rebound for his eighth goal of the season. DeBrusk has been red hot recently with five goals and seven points in his last seven games, and most of that offense has been generated by being active around the front of the net. DeBrusk finished with five shot attempts and two hits in 15:20 of ice time and has really taken it up another notch when the B’s needed him to over the last few weeks.

BLACK EYE: On the good side, Oliver Ekman-Larsson played 26:20 of ice time and generated some offensive chances for the Coyotes. On the bad side, Ekman-Larsson was on the ice for both of the goals that the Bruins scored in a 2-1 game and he took a really bad interference penalty on Jake DeBrusk at one point during the game. While it’s clear that Ekman-Larsson has talent and he’s now the captain of the Desert Dogs, he just has too many wrinkles and flaws in his game that take away from the puck-moving abilities and offensive things he brings to the ice. It’s probably why he’s a career minus-71 despite his talent level at the NHL level.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins looked like they were shot out of a cannon early in the game as they scored a pair of goals in the first three minutes of the game, and did exactly what you’d hope to do with a depleted roster playing the third game in four days on the road. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored the game’s first goal and then 90 seconds later Jake DeBrusk chipped in with his own goal to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead. The Bruins simply hung on for dear life after that and managed to survive a second period where they put together just three shots on net, and packed things in defensively with a roster missing so many of their best players. It was a great blueprint to win a road hockey game and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak didn’t play very well in the 6-3 loss to Colorado at the start of the road trip, and that was a second subpar outing in the last few weeks after he was pulled in the blowout home loss to Vancouver as well. So it was important for the veteran netminder to step up and play well, and that’s exactly what he did in a one-goal win over the Arizona Coyotes where there was really no margin for error. Halak stopped 31-of-32 shots including 11 saves in the third period with the B’s closely guarding a 2-1 lead and didn’t buckle even as a hungry Coyotes bunch tried to at least push things to overtime with a lively third-period effort. The Bruins are going to need near flawless goaltending from Halak and Tuukka Rask as they navigate through the schedule with an undermanned roster, and that’s what they got in Arizona.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of goals for Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in his NHL career after picking up a rebound score in front just a couple of minutes into an eventual win in Arizona. Given the high hopes for JFK within the Bruins organization, they hope it’s the first of many.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought we persevered. The second period got away from us, and we had a conversation about Colorado and not letting things get away from us. I thought we didn’t do that.” –Bruce Cassidy, to NESN on the gritty 2-1 win over the Coyotes.  

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Highlights from the Bruins' 2-1 win over Coyotes

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Highlights from the Bruins' 2-1 win over Coyotes

FINAL SCORE:  Bruins 2, Coyotes 1

FROM JOE HAGGERTY

1. Nice bounce-back from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson on Saturday as the rookie center scored the game’s first goal after crashing the net and popping him the rebound of a Noel Acciari wraparound shot. JFK had been quiet in the last couple of games while still centering the kid line with Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen, but he was energized after getting matched with the hard-hitting Acciari on his line. It’s the first career NHL game for the rookie as he’s still trying to lock down the third line center job with the Bruins.

2. Jake DeBrusk scored again on Saturday night in Arizona, and now has five goals and seven points in the last seven games. The second-year forward is another winger that looks energized by the new line combination while playing early in the game with Brad Marchand and Joakim Nordstrom in a truly new-look forward line due to the Patrice Bergeron injury. One good thing for DeBrusk is that he’s been able to produce and score no matter where he’s been put in the lineup and we’re seeing that now.  

3. The Bruins managed just three shots on net and maybe one or two scoring chances for the entire second period. Bruins fans better get used to it because the B’s coaching staff clearly couldn’t just roll out lines as they’ve done in the past because they’re missing their entire top-4 defensemen pairings and missing their two best defenders in Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. Instead, it’s more of a “[Proceed with Caution] with all the injuries it’s about scrapping for goals early, locking things down offensively while playing a conservative shutdown mode and then hanging on for dear life while generating little offense. 

BOX SCORE.

BRUINS RECORD: 11-6-3

HIGHLIGHTS:

JFK'S FIRST CAREER GOAL 

DEBRUSK MAKES IT 2-0

COYOTES RESPOND

UP NEXT

WEDNESDAY: at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

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