Bruins

What we learned in Bruins' 5-1 win over Devils: Bruins' top line at its peak

What we learned in Bruins' 5-1 win over Devils: Bruins' top line at its peak

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at the Prudential Center.

1) The Bruins have their chemistry back on the Perfection Line. Certainly, the two goals for Patrice Bergeron and the three-assist night for Brad Marchand would be proof positive of that, but it was the second-period goal where each of the three forwards touched the puck that really showed them back at full force. Patrice Bergeron won the offensive zone face-off and pushed the puck down low to Brad Marchand, who found David Pastrnak cutting right to the net for the tap-in goal that gave the B’s a 2-0 lead. New Jersey would cut into that lead before the period was over, but three goals in the final period — including an empty-netter for Bergeron — capped off a great night for Boston’s high-powered top line. It also included Pastrnak’s first goal since returning from his thumb injury. In all. the line totaled three goals and eight points to go along with eight shots on net.

2) David Backes had himself a great night and really seems to have settled into a secondary contributing role with the playoffs around the corner. He was really good throughout the game with a team-high five shots on net and nine shot attempts overall, and was consistently putting pressure around the front of the New Jersey net. He was then rewarded for his efforts with an empty net goal in the third period and might even have an outside chance at 10 goals for the season if he goes on a hot streak at the end. As it is, Backes is at least showing that he’s going to be a factor at some points during the playoffs even if it’s not every night and that is exactly what the Black and Gold are looking for.

3) Three wins in a row and the Bruins have allowed just two goals in those three games while playing shutdown hockey against Columbus, the Islanders and New Jersey. Certainly, that’s not that much of a big deal against an Isles team that’s been dreadful offensively this season, but they still held them to just 13 shots on net for the game. That’s pretty darn impressive, and they allowed just 22 shots on net and no more than a couple of scoring chances to the Devils on Thursday night. Once again, it was an airtight defensive effort with no Torey Krug and no Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup, and Connor Clifton once again played strong all-around hockey with a plus-3 in 18:50 of ice time to go along with three shot attempts and four registered hits for his efforts.

Plus

--Patrice Bergeron finished with a pair of goals, three points and a plus-4 and made a great play winning an offensive zone face-off that set up the game-winning goal in the second period.

--Three assists for Brad Marchand in the game, which puts him up to 90 points for the season and could make him the first 100-point player for the Bruins in a long time if he finishes with a flurry.

--David Pastrnak scored his first goal since coming back from his thumb injury, had five shot attempts and once again looks like he’s ready to return to form.

Minus

--Stefan Noesen had no shots on net and a minus-4 for the game. I’m not even mad. I’m just impressed by how bad he was.

--It looked like Sean Kuraly suffered an injury in the third period when he blocked a shot with his hand that immediately went the other way for a Danton Heinen breakaway goal. It would be a big blow to the B’s if Kuraly is gone for any period of time.

--Damon Severson was a minus-3 with four giveaways in 23:29 of ice time for the Devils, and was a mistake waiting to happen against a Bruins team that he’s had pretty tough luck against in the past.  

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Rask blowing up his reputation as a slow starter with dominant October for B's

Rask blowing up his reputation as a slow starter with dominant October for B's

BRIGHTON, Mass – While so much of this first encouraging couple of weeks has been familiar for the Boston Bruins, one thing is a little different when it comes to the start of the season.

For the first time in a while, goalie Tuukka Rask is getting off to a strong start in the month of October. Last season Rask, of course, battled through a rough first month that ended with a personal leave of absence at the start of November. The numbers over the last five seasons of Octobers for Rask have been pretty brutal.

Whether it was last season’s 3.15 goals and against and .902 save percentage, or a 1-3-2 start with a 2.93 goals against average and .896 save percentage in 2017-18, or a 3.29 goals against average and .889 save percentage in 2015-16, it’s pretty clearly the worst month of the season for him. Over the course of his career, October features his highest career goals against average (2.49) and his lowest career save percentage (.915) of any month in the NHL regular season.

Even Rask has admitted in the past that it takes a while to get the engine going, particularly as a 32-year-old goalie preparing for the rigors of an entire regular season.

But that is not the case this time around.

Rask has been excellent in the first two weeks of the regular season and sits fourth in the entire NHL in both goals against average (1.33) and save percentage (.957) at this early juncture of the year. It’s something that has not gone unnoticed by the Bruins with Boston up at the top of all the defensive and goaltending categories along with the Anaheim Ducks team they will face on Monday afternoon.

“We’re still working on our game like every other team, and I thought that’s where Tuukka [Rask] really stepped up,” said Bruce Cassidy of Rask, who stopped all 31 of the shots he faced for his first shutout of the season Saturday night in a 3-0 win over the Devils. “That’s when he should get the credit. In a game like this, I thought that’s when he earned his paycheck tonight. We broke down a lot there, trying to break pucks out and had some loose play. He was really good.

“Our goaltending has been solid. We knew that coming in [with] two veteran, professional guys.”

Is there anything that Rask himself attributes it to after traditionally struggling so much to get going early in the season?

“I don’t know. We’re playing good,” said Rask. “When you finish your season in June it helps everybody to give you that feeling in the back of your head that you want to play this game. System-wise I think we’ve been pretty solid, so I’m just tagging along there.”

Certainly there is more there than Rask casually saying that he’s “tagging along” with the rest of the Bruins off to a 4-1-0 start. The real question now is just how good can Rask be this season if he doesn’t have that traditional subpar month of October to drag him down as he’s well on his way to blowing up that well-worn narrative about him during his time in Boston. 

Now he just needs to keep going for a few more weeks until the calendar turns to November and December, which have always been among his months as an NHL goaltender. 

HAGGS: Bruins will need every bit of their great start>>>

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Brad Marchand has 'found his stride' amid first-line success

Brad Marchand has 'found his stride' amid first-line success

The Boston Bruins' top line didn't get off to a good start in the Boston Bruins' season opener against the Dallas Stars. But since that time, the line has been excellent. And a lot of that has to do with Brad Marchand's performance.

Marchand, the long-time Bruin, has been one of the team's best offensive players this season. He is on a four-game point streak and has generated seven total points on the season. And according to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Marchand has "found his stride" to start the season.

"Well, he’s on right now," Cassidy said to reporters after the Bruins' win over the Devils. "The Dallas game, there was nowhere to go but up after that one. And he’d be the first to admit it, he didn’t play a lot of preseason. That was by design, he wanted to, he’s a competitor. But he’s found his stride now, that line seems to be clicking like we’ve seen them typically."

For context on how well Marchand is playing, he has scored four of the team's last 10 goals. Meanwhile, his linemates Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak have generated another three goals. Suffice to say, the Perfection Line is living up to its standards.

In addition to the line's strong offensive performance, Marchand and Bergeron have been pesky penalty killers and they were all over the ice during the team's win over the Devils. Cassidy took time to praise them for their effort in that facet of the game as well.

"I think what it does more is deflates the other team," Cassidy said of Marchand and Bergeron's skills on the penalty kill. "If that’s our power play, and I see a team doing that, frustration sets in from the coaching staff; the players on the ice are frustrated and so I think it more demoralizes the opposition than it does to lift us up. We’ve seen them go to work, so that’s the benefit of when you’re able to kill with puck possession a penalty and do it so dominantly."

The Bruins are going to need the first line to continue playing well in all facets of the game, as they are still a top-heavy team. But at least they are off to a good start this season. They are 4-1-0 and rank second in the Atlantic Division behind only the 4-0-1 Buffalo Sabres.

HAGGS: Bruins will need every bit of their great start>>>

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