Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 5-0 decimation of the New York Islanders at [what I’m going to still call] the Nassau Coliseum.
1) Are the Bruins a more difficult team to play against with Torey Krug out of their lineup? Certainly the argument can be made that the B’s are better defensively with No. 47 off the ice, and that's an easy case to make after a Tuesday night shutout in which the B’s limited the Islanders to just two shots in the first period and only 13 shots total. With undersized defensemen Krug and Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup, the Bruins don’t have any D-men that opposing forwards can really pick on, though it should be noted Grzelcyk is actually pretty strong defensively despite the size and strength disadvantage. But the installation of Connor Clifton along with John Moore back into the Bruins' lineup makes them a more rugged defensive unit and certainly gives them a tougher look in the defensive zone. Does it mean they should go with that when Krug and Grzelcyk are healthy and ready to return? Absolutely not, given that the B’s also need to score goals and they rely on Krug running things on their top power-play unit. That’s going to be a massive key to the postseason. But it’s interesting to note how the B’s play differently based on the personnel.
2) Jake DeBrusk didn’t waste much time jumping back into the scoring fold after coming back from injury. Sure, he didn’t make a huge production splash after missing a week-plus, but he did connect on a breakaway goal after jumping out of the penalty box midway through the third period. So now DeBrusk has 9 goals in his last 12 games, and 23 for the season, as he builds momentum toward the postseason. It also goes without saying DeBrusk has the best goal celebration on the team, and he didn’t get any rust on those after not scoring for a couple of weeks.
3) The fourth line had a confidence-building game on Tuesday night, and that’s a very good thing this close to the playoffs. While the fourth line was good during the regular season last year as well, they really got outplayed in the postseason, particularly in the second-round series against the Lightning. The B’s will need a much more effective, impactful fourth line during this spring’s playoffs and they were a dominant, energetic bunch against an Islanders team that's fighting for the Metropolitan Division title. It was Sean Kuraly who scored the first goal 1:10 into the first period when he spun and fired on an unsuspecting Robin Lehner, and then he scored again in the second period when he hopped on a Cal Clutterbuck turnover right in front of the Islanders net. Granted it was Chris Wagner with Kuraly and Danton Heinen in this game while Noel Acciari centered the third line against the Isles, but it will be Acciari, Kuraly and Wagner as the fourth line in the postseason. And -- as Acciari also scored Tuesday night -- they were definitely humming against the Isles from the very drop of the puck.
-- Sean Kuraly registered the first two-goal regular-season game of his NHL career, set the tone with the first goal of the game just a minute into the first period, and finished with six shots on net while active all over the ice.
-- Patrice Bergeron finished with a third-period goal, was a plus-1 for the game with eight shot attempts while winning 13 of 22 draws in just 14:36 of ice time. It was a bonus that the one-sided nature of the game got No. 37 some rest.
-- Noel Acciari scored a much-needed goal and finished with a plus-2 rating, five shot attempts, two hits and a strong 5-of-6 performance in the face-off circle.
-- Robin Lehner just completely whiffed on the first goal of the game, a Kuraly shot he definitely should have stopped, and that set the bad tone for the Islanders for the rest of a horrendous night.
-- One shot, one hit and a minus-3 for Leo Komarov in a totally ineffective night for an Islanders forward who's almost always noticeable when he plays. But at least he didn’t get licked on the face by Brad Marchand.
-- Nick Leddy, Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas were all minus-3 and just played bad hockey. Honestly, everybody outside of Matt Martin was pretty bad for the Islanders in the 5-0 loss.
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