Bruins

Perfection Line back to dominant form for a "scary" Bruins team in Game 5 win

Perfection Line back to dominant form for a "scary" Bruins team in Game 5 win

BOSTON – Watch out for the Perfection Line, NHL.

Now they are feeling it and they’re kind of pissed off that anybody began to doubt them after a slow start to the playoffs, and a real tough beginning to the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

David Pastrnak scored a pair of goals, Brad Marchand netted his first goal of the second round against Columbus and the Bruins gained a strong upper hand in the series with a 4-3 win in Game 5 over the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.

After the game Marchand clapped back at a question about his line’s strong night and Pastrnak admitted that No. 63 “was a little crispy” at some of the recent criticism they’ve received. Well, Marchand can certainly stay extra crispy if it leads to dominant playoff games.

Last night was certainly a far cry from the one point that trio had combined for in the first three games of the series against Columbus, and Pastrnak sounded a defiant tone after it was all over. That might be the best development of the entire series with three extremely significant offensive players now feeling like they’ve got something to prove to everybody after routinely dominating the NHL over the last two seasons.

So now the Perfection Line now has six goals and 11 points in the last two games after combining for just one point in the first three games of this series against Columbus.

Now would be about the time that the Blue Jackets might just be panicking that the sleeping Black and Gold giant has just woken up.

“To be honest I think the only one who is putting pressure on us is you guys [the media],” said Pastrnak. “[We’re] Just playing hockey and trying to win and play for one another. It doesn’t matter who scores. Hockey is a team sport, and that’s how we play as a team.”

It was pretty similar to Marchand’s message after Boston’s Game 4 win in Columbus where the B’s top line definitely seemed to take umbrage at those pointing out their lack of production at the start of the series.

“We’ve gotten a lot of heat, but if you break down the chances for every game then we’re getting five or six really good opportunities every game,” said Marchand, following Game 4 in Columbus. “It’s a matter of time before those guys score goals. If you give [Bergeron and Pastrnak] that many chances to score then they are going to score goals. They’re just too good, so there’s no panic regardless of the outside attention from the media.

“Whatever you guys want to say we’re not concerned about that. We know what’s in this group. We believe in this group. We don’t expect to score every goal. That’s why we’re a good team because we have a good team all around. Everybody expects to pull their weight and do their job. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes other guys score and sometimes we score. That’s why we’re a good team and that’s why we’re in the playoffs. That’s why we’re not concerned about the outside attention.”

The sentiments about it being a team game are nice and Boston’s bottom-6 forwards did plenty to support the club at the start of this series, but the bottom line is that the Bruins needed their top players to step up if they were going to advance. And they have stepped way, way up in the last two games.

Patrice Bergeron kicked in a pair of goals in Boston’s Game 4 win in Columbus, and Pastrnak scored a pair on Saturday night in Boston with a torrid three goals scored in the last two games for the Bruins. The first Pastrnak goal was a wicked wrist shot that Sergei Bobrovsky never even reacted to as Pastrnak rifled it past him, and the game-winner was a thing of transition beauty as Pasta redirected a Marchand cross-ice pass as both players were attacking the Columbus net.

The line combined for three of the team’s four goals, six points and was a plus-8 while generating a whopping 24 shot attempts in the victory. Those are the kinds of dominant puck possession and offensive numbers that the trio put up in last spring’s dominant first round vs. Toronto, and it’s a sign that the Perfection Line might finally be getting things on line in this postseason as well.

Certainly Saturday night’s game might have been their best 5-on-5 performance in the entire Stanley Cup playoff run to date, and it was a performance that most closely matched what they did for so much of the regular season.

“I think tonight was an excellent game for them. They got going in Game 4 up in Columbus. When your offensive guys and players like those guys that put a lot of pressure on themselves to lead, both production-wise, effort-wise, details...you know, if it doesn’t go your way there’s a level of frustration. They’re humans, so now they break through the other night,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Tonight they’re back to feeling good about themselves and listen, you’ve seen them around here. They’re dominant, and when they’re on and they’re very good even when they’re not on.

“If they start feeling it, it’s a tall task for the other team. Now, they’re not going to win every battle because the opposition has good players as well that go through the same, but those guys are elite players. [If this was] not their best game, certainly close, and it came at a good time. Credit to them too to understand the situation we’re in, and we’re in the other night that started the process of us digging out of a deficit.”

Marchand also scored his first of the series after a great first round against the Maple Leafs, and it was all about sticking with it. Connor Clifton made a great choice to rush down toward the goal line after an offensive zone face-off win, and he fed Marchand cross ice at the doorstep. Sergei Bobrovsky made the initial glove save, but Marchand then rifled home the rebound top corner during Boston’s third-period offensive explosion.

“If you give a line like that enough games under their belt against a certain opponent, they’re going to find enough things that work,” said Torey Krug. “Early on they were frustrated the normal things were not working for them but now they’re finding what works. They’re a scary line, they come at you and they attack you. Now pucks are going in for them. Once we get that line going consistently, we’re a very scary team.”

It’s official now. The Bruins are on the verge of eliminating the Blue Jackets in the second round and their Perfection Line is beginning to click on every cylinder. The Bruins are becoming that “very scary team” and their top line is giving them that swagger that’s going to be difficult to derail given all they’ve already overcome in the first couple of rounds in this spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

The NHL is officially returning to play.

The league and NHLPA ratified the Return to Play Plan and a new CBA deal Friday, paving the way for the 2019-20 season to finish. The regular season is over, but the league is not yet jumping into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

The top four teams in each conference will determine their seeding for the first round by playing a round robin format. The teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will square off in a qualifying round that will use a Best-of-5 series format. The four winners of the qualifying series in each conference will be matched up against the top four teams for the first round based on seeding.

These games will take place in two host cities. The Eastern Conference games will be played at Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Here's the schedule for every round robin game and qualifying round series. Check back to this article after each game for scores and updated schedules.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1
Monday, Aug. 3:  Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning
Saturday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (No. 12) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (OT)
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Canadiens vs. Penguins
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

(No. 6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (No. 11) New York Rangers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Hurricanes vs. Rangers*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Rangers vs. Hurricanes*

(No. 7) New York Islanders vs. (No. 10) Florida Panthers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Panthers vs. Islanders
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Islanders vs. Panthers
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

(No. 8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (No. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (No. 12) Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Blackhawks vs. Oilers
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*

(No. 6) Nashville Predators vs. (No. 11) Arizona Coyotes
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Coyotes vs. Predators
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Predators vs. Coyotes
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*

(No. 7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (No. 10) Minnesota Wild
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Wild vs. Canucks
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*

(No. 8) Calgary Flames vs. (No. 9) Winnipeg Jets
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Jets vs. Flames
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames vs. Jets
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*
*If necessary

Christmas in August: Thoughts on Bruins, Celtics after their return

Christmas in August: Thoughts on Bruins, Celtics after their return

Winter sports are back at a furious pace.

If you're like me and spent much of the weekend absorbing constant NHL and NBA, the "Bruins and Celtics games" part of your brain is probably close to overheating after running for the first time in a while.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Heat, which begins Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Here are some thoughts from the B's and C's returning.  

♦ The best way to spin the Bruins' loss to the Flyers is to say that they don't care about seeding and were just easing back in.

I'll doubt that logic and just say they were horrible. Maybe the only positive was that the Coyle line looked good. Especially thanks to the play of Anders Bjork, that third line was a primary reason the Bruins probably came out of the first period feeling like the better team.

The rest? Whoof. Jack Studnicka did not look ready for a top-6 role and David Krejci seemed less than inspired; those could be related. The Bergeron line wasn't good; that for sure can't be a thing in the playoffs given the uncertainty of the rest of the lineup. The best team in the regular season still has no idea what its lines are and that's a major concern for me. 

♦ I thought the Flyers game was the Bruins' best chance at two points in the round robin. We’ll see how the Lightning and Capitals look today; it's possible the B's could win the next two, but we shouldn't be expecting the top seed anymore. 

♦ Jaroslav Halak was was on a long list of players who did not have it Sunday.

If Tuukka Rask was in net — especially on that fourth goal — alarms would be sounding, but then again he wasn't available with only two more chances to get prepared for the playoffs. Perhaps we should be sounding alarms either way.

Hopefully the Bruins can give Rask the next two games, because whoever they get in the first round is gonna be in playoff form. The Bruins are far from it right now. 

♦ By the end of the night, the Canadiens will either be tied with the Penguins or up two games to none and on the verge of pulling a major upset. I'd welcome the matchup if I were the Bruins, but they wouldn't get it in the first round anyway if they miss out on the top seed. 

♦ Sunday's Celtics game was hilarious, as is the fact that I’m not freaking out more over blowing a TWENTY-FOUR POINT LEAD. Why? Because Jaylen Brown had that “I decide who wins this game” mentality in the second half.

Brilliant, and he’s one of three guys I trust to do that on this team. 

♦ At 1-1 since returning, I feel good about the Celtics. Not because I'm happy that Kemba has played well despite being on a minutes restriction. That is what it is. I wasn't worried about Tatum stinking Friday; that seemed like a weird one-game thing, and it was. 

I feel good because of Gordon Hayward. He’s not on that short list of closers I just referenced and I'm not sure we'll ever stop asking if he is "back," but he's averaging 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds through two games, both of which are well above his season averages.

I already think the Celtics are the team to beat in the East. If Kemba's knee is OK — which will remain an "if" every second of the postseason for me — and if Hayward plays like he's played, I'm even more convinced of it. 

♦ Overall, I think the NHL and NBA’s returns to play have been splendid. I got out when I could this weekend, but it was a lot of two-TV time with constant texting about which game to put on/which game was interesting gambling-wise. With no disrespect meant to other sports, these are leagues that had left so much unsettled, and it's finally happening in a way that grabs our attention all day.

What a beautiful thing. 

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