New York Islanders

What we learned in Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Are B's better off without Krug?

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What we learned in Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Are B's better off without Krug?

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.

PLUS

-- 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.

MINUS

-- 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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Talking Points from Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Kuraly sets tone

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Talking Points from Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Kuraly sets tone

GOLD STAR: Fourth-line center Sean Kuraly is having a pretty darn good season. The two goals scored on Tuesday night give him a career-high eight and 20 points with 10 regular-season games remaining. Tuesday night also marked his first two-goal game in the regular season after he scored twice in Game 5 of the 2017 playoff series vs. Ottawa. Both were just flat out good shots. The first goal simply fooled Robin Lehner when he first looked to pass and the second was Kuraly stepping into a pass from Danton Heinen after a quick wraparound attempt. He’s really not a good fit as a top-nine forward after the Bruins tried him on the third line to start the season, but he’s become a really good, well-rounded fourth-line center with just enough offensive pop. A pretty good season for Kuraly with some bumps and bruises along the way.

BLACK EYE: Can you give it to the entire Islanders team? There are so many candidates to choose from, whether it was Lehner, who appeared to be having trouble tracking pucks from the first goal allowed, or Josh Bailey and Leo Komarov, who were both a minus-3 with zero offensive presence. In general, the Islanders managed just two shots on net in the first period and then only another six in the second period. By that point, they were trailing 3-0 with no chance to get back into the game. About the only Islanders player who showed up was Matt Martin challenging Zdeno Chara to a fight to start the second period to try and stir up the troops, but that didn’t even work for a team that just never showed up.

TURNING POINT: After slow starts for the longest time, the Bruins are again hopping on opponents and taking control of games. Kuraly and the Bruins fourth line brought serious energy at the start of the game and it culminated with Kuraly scoring just 1:10 in. Once the Bruins scored that early knockdown, it sure appeared like the Islanders quit with just two shots on net in the first period. Then the Bruins scored two more goals in the second and were off and running after a strong start. It was all about being ready to go at the starting gate for the Black and Gold.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron had another typically excellent game that culminated with No. 37 scoring a goal in the third period to help widen the lead. It was a top-corner beauty in the slot that Bergeron stepped into after a slick centering pass from Joakim Nordstrom. He finished with a goal, a plus-1 rating and eight shot attempts in 14:36 of easygoing ice time. Bergeron also had a takeaway and 13 of 22 wins on face-offs in a strong, all-around effort while centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak for the first time in a month. There were plenty of good performances, though. This could have gone to Noel Acciari, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, Charlie McAvoy or Zdeno Chara among others in a strong all-around effort.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the number of shots on net for Charlie Coyle in 17:58 of ice time as he continues to generate shots and offense while playing the wing on David Krejci’s right side rather than third line center.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought in every area of the game we were very good. We limited their chances against. I thought we broke up a lot of plays to put us in transition, made good decisions with the puck and really attacked when we could. I thought our D pinched at the right times and the forwards reloaded, and as a result, we got a lot of pucks back. We buried a few early and about halfway through the game I thought we really broke their spirit.” –Bruce Cassidy, to NESN on the dominant 5-0 win.

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Highlights of the Bruins 5-0 victory over the Islanders

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Highlights of the Bruins 5-0 victory over the Islanders

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 5, Islanders 0

IN BRIEF: Sean Kuraly had his first two-goal game since the 2017 playoffs and the Tuukka Rask had to stop only 13 shots in his fourth shutout of the season as the Bruins cruised past the New York Islanders 5-0 in Uniondale, N.Y.  The Bruins have won their past eight road games vs. the Isles while outscoring them, 35-13.  BOX SCORE.

BRUINS RECORD: 44-20-9, 97 points, second in the Atlantic Division

HIGHLIGHTS:

KURALY GETS B'S ON BOARD IN FIRST PERIOD:

ACCIARI CONVERTS TURNOVER INTO 2-0 LEAD:

CHARA THROWS DOWN WITH MATT MARTIN:

KURALY MAKES IT 3-0:

BERGERON JOINS IN:

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

*Fourth-line center Sean Kuraly is having a pretty darn good season. The two goals scored tonight give him a career-high eight and 20 points with 10 games remaining in the regular season. Tuesday night also marks his first two-goal game in the regular season. He scored a couple of goals in Game 5 of the 2017 playoff series vs. Ottawa. He’s really not a good fit as a top-nine forward after the Bruins tried him on the third line to start the season, but he’s become a really good, well-rounded fourth-line center with just enough offensive pop. A pretty good season for Kuraly with some bumps and bruises along the way.

*Playing for the first time in a month, David Pastrnak looked okay shooting the puck and he was active with three shots on goal in 14:19 of ice time against the Islanders. His skating looks good and he was around the action quite a bit. Still, he also had three giveaways and it looks like perhaps he’s not as strong on the puck as he normally is while playing with a splint on his left hand. Maybe some of it is just residual rust, but it’s something to watch as he returns from the ligament injury in his left thumb.

*Zdeno Chara and Matt Martin dropped the gloves to start the second period right off the opening face-off after the Islanders managed just two shots on net in the first period. Martin was clearly trying to fire up the Islanders after a dog’s breakfast of a first period. Chara granted him an audience as he clearly respects the Islanders tough guy. But the 6-foot-3 Martin couldn’t get a glove on the long-armed Chara and the 6-9 D-man dropped him twice with big punches before he finally drove him down for good. It almost doesn’t seem fair for anybody to try and fight Chara as he holds the reach and size advantage on everybody else in the NHL.  

*Charlie McAvoy with a helper on the B’s first goal in the first period, and was on the ice for two of Boston’s five goals. It’s a pretty strong all-around effort with McAvoy making plays in front of his friends and family at Nassau Coliseum after growing up in Long Beach, N.Y., and he had a shot on net, a couple of hits and a blocked shot in more than 22 minutes of ice time through the complete domination from beginning to end.

*There were only eight shots on net through the first two periods for the Islanders as they were booed off the ice at the end of 40 minutes. What a complete no-show performance from them on home ice. But give the Bruins credit as they clamped down the defense on the Islanders from the beginning while allowing just two shots on goal in the first period, and then they continued by finishing strong in the third while pouring on a couple more goals in the 5-0 win. Patrice Bergeron scored his 28th goal of the season on a feed from Joakim Nordstrom and Jake DeBrusk scored his first goal since returning from injury on a breakaway after serving out his penalty. 

UP NEXT:
At Devils, Thursday, 7 p.m., NESN
At Panthers, Saturday, 7 p.m., NESN

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