GOLD STAR: You’ve got to give it to Brad Marchand. After being the only guy that showed any emotion or anger in throwing down with Lars Eller in the third period of Boston’s embarrassing blowout loss to the Washington Capitals, Marchand clearly helped spark the Bruins into a higher level of performance once night later against the Buffalo Sabres. More importantly, Marchand did it on the ice as well with four assists and a plus-3 rating while making key plays on all three of Boston’s goals scored with a Sabres goalie still between the pipes. It shows just how much leadership Marchand showed in taking a stand against the Capitals on Wednesday night, and then backing it up a day later with a much higher level of play on the ice.
BLACK EYE: The Buffalo Sabres are going to need better goaltending if they’re going to demonstrably improve this season, and they flat out didn’t get it against the Boston Bruins. Sure there were defensive breakdowns on the final two goals with Ryan Donato and David Pastrnak left way too wide open to shoot the puck in tight around the net. But the first goal was a tough one to give up as Zdeno Chara beat Hutton to the short side with an admittedly good shot that took tons of pressure off the Bruins, and gave them a whole lot of confidence moving forward. Hutton finished with three goals allowed on 25 shots, which isn’t terrible while not being nearly good enough to get the job done against the Black and Gold.
TURNING POINT: The game was pretty touch-and-go early in the proceedings without a score, and with the Bruins perhaps still smarting a little bit at the spanking they’d suffered one night prior in Washington DC. But the Bruins started making little plays that made all the difference in the world whether it was Jaroslav Halak with a couple of early stops at key moments, or it was David Pastrnak leaping to poke check a puck away on the backcheck as it looked like the Sabres were going to enter the zone with speed and possession. Those little first-period‘ detail plays’ led up to Zdeno Chara finally scoring the first goal of the game and sending the Bruins on their way in a game they desperately needed.
HONORABLE MENTION: It doesn’t get much more impressive than a shutout performance in his Bruins debut for Jaroslav Halak. Halak made a couple of key saves early when the game was very much in question and really went to work in the second period with 11 saves while protecting a two-goal lead against a Sabres team that showed some desperation. The interesting question now is how things are going to shake out moving forward with Halak and Tuukka Rask, and how their playing time will be meted out. Is there any chance whatsoever that the Bruins would change course and play Halak on Monday afternoon instead of Rask after the first two games? I don’t think it will happen this early, but it sure makes for some interesting conversation.
BY THE NUMBERS: +9 – the combined plus/minus for Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak in Thursday night’s win over Buffalo after they combined for a minus-6 rating in the blowout loss in the season opener against Washington.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We were just brutal everywhere. I don’t think we needed film to show us that. We knew we just had to compete harder, come back harder and win more puck battles. We did that and it worked out in our favor.” –Brad Marchand on the turnaround from last night in Washington a shutout win in Buffalo.