Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-3 win over the Golden Knights

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-3 win over the Golden Knights

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak was flying from beginning to end with his best game of the season while scoring his first goal of the season. Pastrnak also had two assists along with a plus-1 rating in 19:26 of ice time and a number of offensive chances created through his skating, his playmaking and his work with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. This was, by far, their best night of the season as they combined for three of the team’s four goals, 12 shots on net and 24 shot attempts while completely getting on track offensively. It would appear that the rust is finally off the Perfection Line.

BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask appeared to be injured at the very end of the game after holding things down in the third period to protect a one-goal lead. He stayed down in the crease for a few moments and then needed help getting off the ice. It appears to be nothing as Rask said to reporters following the game that it was just cramping amidst the Vegas heat after a busy game where he made 31 saves with a frenetic ending. Likewise, Matt Grzelcyk appeared to have suffered a left foot injury when he blocked a shot in the first period that forced him from the bench, but he also appears to be okay after returning in the second and third periods.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins faltered early in the game when a couple of defensive coverage mistakes led to the Golden Knights being up by a couple of goals. Then the Bruins' best players decided enough was enough and began scoring. By the end of the first period, scores from Pastrnak and Marchand evened things up and then the Bruins kicked it into offensive gear in the second period to put Vegas in the rear-view mirror. It was all about the first period, though, as the B’s pulled themselves off the mat, led by their best players.

HONORABLE MENTION: Rask fought through some cramping problems at the end of the third period to secure the win. Rask finished with 31 saves and was a rock in the third period as the desperate Golden Knights began throwing everything at the Boston net. He made just six saves as the Bruins defense stiffened in the third period as well, but it was a mad scramble at the very end with Rask once again playing midseason hockey just a few games into the season. Rask has struggled historically in October, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this season after back-to-back wins to start.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – The number of team-leading hits for Karson Kuhlman, who actually played pretty well when he was dropped into a bottom-six role as Bruce Cassidy switched around the lines.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We battled back. There was no panic. We just kept pushing. Our power play came through for us. At the end of the day, the third period was solid. We played the right way and I like the way we closed out the game.” –Bruce Cassidy, to NESN postgame about a solid effort for the Bruins after battling back from an early 2-0 deficit.

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Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

BOSTON – There’s no denying the single biggest common thread through the Bruins' four-game losing streak.

The same Tuukka Rask that was brilliant in the first month of the season has hit a rough patch in November and that tough stretch continued as he coughed up four goals in the third period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Rask is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in four November starts and played a starring role as a liability in losses to Montreal and Florida the past week. It was Rask who was beaten in the first minute of the third period on a long-distance Aaron Ekblad shot where the goaltender admitted he was too deep in the net and it was Rask who didn’t shut off the post on Florida’s third goal scored by Mike Hoffman as Florida was storming back in the final 20 minutes.

“I should have been sharper in that third period,” lamented Rask. “There were a couple of soft goals and I let [the Panthers] kind of get some momentum. It’s a 60-minute game and we’ve been on the other side of it.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as the three soft goals he gave up that all clanged off his glove hand last week in Montreal, but it was far from vintage Rask at a time when a few different things are going wrong for the Bruins. Rask is still top five with a 2.16 GAA and eighth in the league with a .926 save percentage, but it’s a far cry from the .951 save percentage he racked up in 10 games in a red-hot October.

Clearly, Rask is going through the same kind of tough stretch that used to greet him the first month of the season, but this time, it’s hitting him after a brief, dominant stretch out of the starting gate. Perhaps the Bruins coaching staff will get a quicker hook with Rask the next time he shows signs of trouble as in the losses against Montreal and Florida, or Jaroslav Halak will be used with a little more frequency until Rask works out the kinks in his game.

At least the B’s No. 1 goaltender isn’t under any illusions about the way he’s played the past few games.

“In Montreal, I sucked. In Detroit, I felt okay. Today, in the last period there were a couple of soft goals, so I can’t be too satisfied,” said Rask. “But, hey, there’s a lot of hockey left.”

While it’s refreshing to hear the kind of accountability  Rask is putting out there, the Bruins aren’t going to go very far if Rask is talking too much about sucking and giving up soft goals. The B’s better hope that their top goalie gets locked back in pretty quickly so both the team and Rask can leave their early-season mini-slumps behind in the rear-view mirror.

 

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NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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