What we learned in Bruins' win over Ducks: Big night for the fourth line

What we learned in Bruins' win over Ducks: Big night for the fourth line

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at the Honda Center:

1) The fourth line continues to be a big factor for the Bruins. 
On a night when the regular Bruins offensive producers weren’t having a dominant night against a lesser opponent, it was the perfect time for somebody else to step up and fill the void. 

The fourth-liners did just that with Sean Kuraly setting up the first goal in the first period, Noel Acciari scored when he went to the front of the net and tipped a Brandon Carlo shot and then Chris Wagner stepping up and icing the game against his old team with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game. 

The rise of the fourth line is obviously a boon for the Black and Gold when it comes to secondary scoring and matchups on the road where the B’s don’t have the last change, and of course in the energy department. Still, it’s also a pretty big development given how problematic the third line has been. Kuraly, Wagner and Acciari all topped 14 minutes of ice time, which actually puts them more in line with a third line than the actual third line of Joakim Nordstrom, Trent Frederic and David Backes. 

As Don Sweeney alluded to earlier this week, it may actually be that the fourth line becomes a checking, defensive third line for the Bruins where the offense takes a bit of a backseat, but there will still be nights such as Friday in Anaheim where they can step up and carry for the day when Boston’s offensive stars have temporarily dimmed. That just won’t be a formula for success in the playoffs unless the B’s can find a way to pump up their second line as well.

2)  After a tough stretch, Jaroslav Halak is riding high.
For about six weeks, goals against were piling up, but now it appears Jaroslav Halak has bounced back. He stopped all 30 shots Friday night and earned his fourth shutout of the season. Halak is 2-0-1 with a 1.27 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in three appearances in February. His season totals are still ahead of Tuukka Rask with a 2.35 GAA and a .923 save percentage. 

Granted, the Ducks aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts and they struggled to really string together quality offensive chances on Friday, but it was Halak that made a nifty save on Max Jones after a bad Torey Krug turnover in the first period. It was Halak who made another 11 saves in the second period and it was Halak that didn’t have a single misstep while playing confidently and calmly.

With Halak and Rask once again operating on all cylinders in net, the Bruins are going to be tough to beat.

3) Jake DeBrusk appears to be getting his game back.
After going more than a month without a goal and really not looking like the next-best offensive threat behind Boston’s top line, he’s beginning to heat up again in what appears to be something of a streaky track record for the second-year winger.

DeBrusk has two goals and four points in the past two games, along with eight shots on net. He's going hard to the net and is again getting pretty active on the second line while skating with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik. His goal on Friday night was a byproduct of him playing the net-front on the power play and simply having his stick down ready to activate when Krejci made an All-World play dangling around the Ducks defense and their goaltender before feeding it to his wide-open linemate. They won’t all be that easy, but DeBrusk is showing that he’s again ready to shoulder more of the offensive burden.

*Acciari hasn’t scored a ton of goals this season, but he set the tone when he tipped home a Carlo shot in the first period and made the Bruins front-runners in the game. He finished with the goal, a plus-2, three shots on net and three hits.

*Halak made 30 saves in his fourth shutout of the season and made 11 saves each in the first and second periods while really getting locked back in.

*Kuraly picked up a pair of assists, made a slick dish to Brandon Carlo on the B’s first goal and blocked a couple of shots in 16=plus minutes of ice time while having a really good night.

*Adam Henrique was on the ice for a pair of goals against, lost seven of his 10 face-offs and wasn’t much of a presence at all offensively for Anaheim.

*No shots on net and a minus-1 for Ryan Getzlaf in 20:51 of ice time as he continues to look like a once-dominant player in decline for the Ducks. It’s part of the reason they are where they are these days.

*Three giveaways and no shots on net in 19:12 of ice time for Charlie McAvoy in a step back from some of the excellent games that he’s had of late. 

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NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

The NHL is officially returning to play.

The league and NHLPA ratified the Return to Play Plan and a new CBA deal Friday, paving the way for the 2019-20 season to finish. The regular season is over, but the league is not yet jumping into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The top four teams in each conference will determine their seeding for the first round by playing a round robin format. The teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will square off in a qualifying round that will use a Best-of-5 series format. The four winners of the qualifying series in each conference will be matched up against the top four teams for the first round based on seeding.

These games will take place in two host cities. The Eastern Conference games will be played at Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Here's the schedule for every round robin game and qualifying round series. Check back to this article after each game for scores and updated schedules.


Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning 3, Bruins 2
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flyers 3, Capitals 1
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers 4, Lightning 1
Saturday, Aug. 9: Capitals 2, Bruins 1

(No. 5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (No. 12) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (OT)
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
Canadiens win series 3-1

(No. 6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (No. 11) New York Rangers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Hurricanes win series 3-0

(No. 7) New York Islanders vs. (No. 10) Florida Panthers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Islanders 4, Panthers 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Panthers 3, Islanders 2
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders 5, Panthers 1
Islanders win series 3-1

(No. 8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (No. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs


Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 5, Stars 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights 6, Blues 4
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars 2, Blues 1 (SO)

(No. 5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (No. 12) Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Blackhawks 4, Oilers 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 2
Blackhawks win series 3-1

(No. 6) Nashville Predators vs. (No. 11) Arizona Coyotes
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Coyotes 4, Predators 1
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Coyotes win series 3-1

(No. 7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (No. 10) Minnesota Wild
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks 3, Wild 0
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks 5, Wild 4 (OT)
Canucks win series 3-1

(No. 8) Calgary Flames vs. (No. 9) Winnipeg Jets
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames 4, Jets 0
Flames win series 3-1

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

The NHL round robin is finally over for the Boston Bruins, and soon their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final will resume.

The Bruins lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals on Sunday in their third and final round robin game. Boston dropped all three matchups and earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for their lackluster results.

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The B's will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. It's a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Final, which Boston won in a sweep.

Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Bruins vs. Capitals and assess their merit (All advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Lack of power play success is a concern
Verdict: Overreaction

The Bruins entered Sunday as one of four teams in the league's 24-team restart that still hadn't scored a power-play goal, and Boston wasn't able to change that fact against the Capitals. The B's went 0-for-2 on the power play versus Washington, leaving the Original Six club with an 0-for-9 mark on the man advantage through the three round robin games. 

So, why shouldn't we be concerned over the Bruins power play? Well, for starters, Boston had the second-best power play during the regular season at 25.2 percent. Only the Edmonton Oilers scored more power-play goals than the B's. The Bruins also have several players with high-end offensive skill to put on their player play units, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug. Boston's top line struggled in the round robin with zero goals and one assist, but when it inevitably heats up, the power play will benefit as well.

It's important not to take too much from a three-game sample size of the power play right after a four-month layoff. That said, the Bruins need their power play to be more effective in the first round of the playoffs if they're going to give themselves the highest possible chance at advancing. 

2. Bruins' round robin struggles will carry into Round 1
Verdict: Overreaction

The round robin was important, make no mistake about that. Even though seeding is less crucial than usual because home ice advantage is not a factor in the Toronto bubble, earning a high seed would still have been helpful in forging the easiest possible road to the Stanley Cup Final. The league will re-seed after each round of the playoffs instead of using a traditional bracket, so the No. 1 seed will play the lowest-seeded opponent in each round. 

The Bruins, judging by their comments and on-ice play, don't seem too concerned about seeding. In fairness, the most important things for the Bruins in the round robin were to get their legs back after not playing for a while and avoid injuries. The Bruins will enter Round 1 of the playoffs with a pretty healthy roster, and while their performance in the round robin was certainly less-than-stellar, they played better in the last two games compared to the awful 4-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers in the opener.

The next games actually matter, and for a veteran group with loads of playoff and championship experience, we should see a hungrier and more motivated Bruins team when the puck drops in Game 1 against the Hurricanes.

3. David Krejci line took an important step forward vs. Capitals
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Bruins' second line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase played together for the first time in the round robin Sunday, and it gave an encouraging performance.

Overall, the Krejci line held a 10-5 advantage in shot attempts, a 4-1 edge in shots on goal and a 3-1 lead in scoring chances during 5-on-5 action against the Capitals.

Kase was making his round robin debut and made a nice pass to DeBrusk on Boston's only goal. Krejci also picked up an assist on the play.

This goal for DeBrusk was huge. The 23-year-old left winger had scored only one goal in his previous 16 games dating back to the regular season. Hopefully for the B's, this goal helps to spark some consistency in DeBrusk's game entering the playoffs.

Secondary scoring is going to be a huge factor for the Bruins in the postseason, and this second line will play a huge part in whether Boston generates enough offense to make a deep run.