Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
1) It was a pretty good debut for Zach Senyshyn. The 22-year-old certainly hasn’t lit it up in the AHL the past two seasons and he was the last position player from the first round of the 2015 Draft to make his debut at the NHL level, so there is some skepticism that goes along with his appearance for Boston. But Senyshyn showed good speed, a good feel for getting to spots where he could shoot the puck and he picked up an empty-net goal at the very end of the game to put the cherry on top of the NHL debut sundae. Senyshyn finished with four shots on net, seven shot attempts, a hit and the empty-net goal in 12:41 of ice time along with a plus-1 rating for the game, and has to feel motivated to really bring it next season and get a longer look at the NHL level. The Bruins could certainly use a 6-foot-3 winger with speed who can finish plays if Senyshyn can really amp up the consistency, the tenaciousness and the production from his first two AHL seasons. All that being said, he’s a long way from making anybody forget about Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor or Brock Boeser anytime soon.
2) The Bruins' worst nightmares were almost realized when Kevan Miller took a tumble knee-first into the boards after battling with Jordan Greenway for a puck as the two big bodies went into the corner. Miller was gimpy when he finally got up after crashing into the boards, and he missed most of the second period before returning for a shift prior to the second intermission. Miller wasn’t seen in the third period, but Bruce Cassidy said following the game that the rugged defenseman was held out for precautionary purposes and may play on Saturday. Since Miller has basically missed half the season with an assortment of injuries, though, it might just be better for both Miller and the Bruins if he sits out the Saturday afternoon regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then again, Connor Clifton has shown that he’s a pretty good backup plan should Miller get dinged up during the postseason, and he was throwing hard hits and being tough to play against vs. the Wild again on Thursday night.
3) Noel Acciari continues to live up to his words about his game being made for the playoffs. He’s played extremely well over the last few weeks, and once again tipped a puck away from the Minny defense to set up Joakim Nordstrom’s game-winning goal. It was a heads-up play after Matt Grzelcyk’s point shot had glanced off the post and then bounced off the end boards before popping to a 50/50 puck battle between Acciari and Anthony Bitetto. Acciari won that battle by poking the puck away to the wide open Nordstrom, and the rest was history with the B’s opening goal in a shutout win. Acciari finished with six shots on net, eight shot attempts and three hits in 14:59 of ice time, and was physical, productive and playing with the kind of energy that could be difference-making when it gets to the postseason. It will be a challenge regardless of who he’s playing with, and playing against, on the fourth line once the postseason begins, but Acciari is showing that he might just be up for the challenge. That’s very encouraging particularly with Sean Kuraly out to start the playoffs with his hand injury.
*Noel Acciari set up the game-winner with a heads-up play around the net, led the Bruins with six shots on net and played with equal parts energy and effectiveness in his 14:59 of ice time.
*Joakim Nordstrom doesn’t get a lot of credit for the season he’s had with the Bruins, but he seems to almost always score important goals for the B’s as he did with the game-winner against Minnesota.
*Zach Senyshyn scored an empty-net goal in his NHL debut and perhaps more importantly had an easy enough time getting his shot off and getting chances against the Wild. It’s an encouraging sign he may have something to give Boston next season.
*Ryan Donato had a couple of scoring chances and he had four shots on net for the Wild, but he also was a minus-2 against his former Bruins teammates and once again looked like he’s got some things to learn in the defensive zone.
*No shots on net, two giveaways and a minus-1 for Jason Zucker in a meaningless end-of-the-season game that the Wild forward was treating as such.
*No shots on net for Danton Heinen in 14:04 of ice time in a quiet game that needs to be a whole lot less quiet once the postseason gets going. There will be competition for his lineup spot if he can’t be a difference-maker.
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