Talking Points from Bruins' 5-2 Game 1 win over Hurricanes

Talking Points from Bruins' 5-2 Game 1 win over Hurricanes

GOLD STAR: Marcus Johansson came up big for the Bruins in Game 1. It was Johansson who stole the puck from Justin Faulk at the defensive blue line, drove down the wing and fed Steve Kampfer for the first goal of the game. Then it was Johansson who fought through defenders in front of the Carolina net and smacked home the rebound of a Brad Marchand for a power-play goal in the third period that tied the score at 2. 

Johansson finished with a goal, two points and a plus-1 rating in 14:19 of ice time while putting up two shots on net, four shot attempts and a blocked shot in an active night for him. The combination of the playmaking and the finish around the net is a good formula for Johansson, who has goals in consecutive games.

BLACK EYE: Dougie Hamilton imploded in the third period and helped hand things to the Bruins with a lack of discipline that revealed Carolina’s lack of experience in these big games. 

That led to a couple of Bruins' power play goals in the third - Johansson's that tied it and Patrice Bergeron's go-ahead goal. It was all about Hamilton retaliating to a hit to earn a roughing penalty, and then Dougie jumping in as a third guy to throw a hit on David Backes that earned him an interference penalty. 

Both were examples of Hamilton trying to play the physical game that’s really not his style, and that’s part of the reason it led to the key penalties against the Carolina defenseman in the third period. The fact that Hamilton was whining about both calls after the game only further adds to a lack of accountability that’s always been there for him.

TURNING POINT: It was the greasy Carolina game finally catching up to the Canes in the third period with Jordan Staal and  Hamilton taking penalties in the first few minutes that led to power-play goals for the Bruins.

It really put a spotlight on Carolina’s inexperience in a big moment in Game 1 when they were holding a 2-1 lead into the final period and had Boston in a comfortable spot after a “meh” second period from the Black and Gold. But the boarding, roughing and interference calls led to a pair of PP goals and awakened the Bruins to give them a big victory in Game 1 with no Charlie McAvoy in the lineup.

HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Wagner is only in the Boston lineup right now because Noel Acciari is hurt, but that didn’t stop the fourth-liner from Walpole, Mass., from having his best game of the playoffs.

Wagner added a goal late in the proceedings after stealing a puck from Faulk at the offensive blue line and led the Bruins with seven shots on net and four hits in 14:09 of ice time. He also drew the boarding penalty on Staal in the third period that led to Boston’s first power-play goal and got the B’s off and running for the rest of the period in their comeback win. 

Wagner brought energy, physicality and secondary offense to the table for the Bruins and that’s exactly what they needed from him.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – The number of goals that Sebastian Aho has scored in nine career games vs. the Bruins after getting another one on Thursday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He’s turning over a new leaf, eh?” –Bruce Cassidy, on Brad Marchand pulling Connor Clifton away from a scrum in the third period in order to avoid canceling out a power play coming Boston’s way for Jordan Staal’s boarding of Chris Wagner. 

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Devils

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Devils

GOLD STAR: Matt Grzelcyk kicked off the scoring for the Bruins and finished with the first two-goal game of his NHL career in the win over the Devils. Grzelcyk had the two goals along with a plus-2 rating in 19:16 of ice time while showing exactly what he can do offensively with Torey Krug out of the lineup. The second score in the third period was a highlight-reel goal as he faked out PK Subban at the offensive blue line and then rocketed a shot under the crossbar past Mackenzie Blackwood to ice things for the Black and Gold. Grzelcyk finished with three shots on net, a hit and a blocked shot in the biggest offensive game of his career.

BLACK EYE: PK Subban looked bad against the B's. Subban finished with a minus-2, took a lazy tripping penalty in the third period that led to David Pastrnak’s insurance power-play goal and then got completely posterized by Grzelcyk on a third-period goal where he dangled right around the New Jersey D-man. Subban didn’t do much of anything at the offensive end either aside from one shot in the slot area that Tuukka Rask made a pretty routine save on. It all underscores just how much Subban’s skills have apparently eroded due to either age or injuries because he sure isn’t the same guy that he was in his younger years in Montreal.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a solid 2-1 lead after the first 40 minutes, but they had given up a goal late in the second period that ate away at their momentum a little bit. So, it was important for them to come out guns blazing in the third and that is exactly what they did while blowing the Devils out of the water. The Bruins scored three goals and took advantage of some sloppy mistakes from the Devils to pull away in a game that felt a lot closer than it ultimately ended up being on the scoreboard. Certainly, seeing the B’s pull away from teams in the third is a much more welcome sight than the third-period implosion we saw against Florida a week ago.  

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci was excellent sliding in as the top center between Brad Marchand and Pastrnak, just as he was last season when Patrice Bergeron also missed time with an injury. Krejci got the secondary assist with a great backhanded pass on Grzelcyk’s first-period goal and then he set up Pastrnak for his first-period score as well. Krejci finished with a couple of assists, a plus-3 rating and 7-for-14 on face-offs in 15:49 of ice time. Krejci is again showing exactly what he could do if he was ever centered between a pair of elite offensive wingers instead of the carousel of right wings the Bruins have provided him the past couple seasons.

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 – the number of goals for Pastrnak this season after another two-goal outburst. That leads the NHL. There have only been seven games this season for the Bruins where he hasn’t scored a goal.  

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I don’t think we made one mistake in the third [period]. We just played winning hockey in the third.” –David Pastrnak, to NESN on the B’s pulling away from the Devils in the final 20 minutes.

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Is it time to start getting worried about Bergeron's lower body injury?

Is it time to start getting worried about Bergeron's lower body injury?

Is it time to get nervous about Patrice Bergeron if you’re a Bruins fan?

Maybe so.

Bergeron, 35, took the ice at the Prudential Center in New Jersey for the Tuesday morning skate ahead of the game against the New Jersey Devils and he was declared a game-time decision. Bruce Cassidy said that Bergeron would take the warm-up and then decide his availability.

"He felt a lot better today, but I don’t want to confirm it just yet,” Bruce Cassidy said to reporters in New Jersey after the morning skate. Cassidy was then asked if they might be a little careful about playing Bergeron in back-to-back situations when he does come back. “It’ll be his call. He’s been around a long time. He knows his body better than we do, so we’ll talk about it. Obviously, I wouldn’t say it automatically that we would do it, but it’s something we’d have to consider so that he’s as healthy as possible going forward.

“We talked about that this summer. We talked about that with a few players because of the long playoff run last year. We may have to look into that.”

Instead, Bergeron missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury suffered last weekend and all are left to wonder if it’s for precautionary reasons against a bottom-feeder New Jersey team, or if it’s because the old groin problems have cropped up for him again. The mere fact that Bergeron missed the warm-up after the Bruins expected him to take it this morning, is a warning sign that the injury didn't respond as they were hoping it would. 

Certainly, a “load management” type plan with Bergeron would be smart as the B's hope to have him at his level best when it matters most down the stretch and into the playoffs, where last spring the groin issues dogged him in the  Stanley Cup Final.

The concern is that Bergeron could possibly again be dealing with the groin issue that over the summer needed a PRP (blood-platelet plasma) injection to get him healthy for training camp. If that is indeed the case, and it appeared to be when he tweaked his lower body while getting hauled down on an offensive zone face-off on a second-period power play in Toronto, then this might be something the Bruins and Bergeron will have to manage going forward.

That seemingly is the only thing that could slow down the Bruins, who sit atop the Atlantic Division at 13-3-5, and a Perfection Line that’s been routinely dominating opponents the first month-plus of the season.

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