How The Halak Are ya?

The Bruins won their 5th in a row behind Jaro Halak, topping the Rangers 1-0 at MSG. The Bruins actually got a lead this game (!!!) that they never relinquished en route to another 2 points in the standings to open up their East Division lead to 4 over the idle Flyers.

Once again, to call this game uneven and choppy is being generous. With Halak in net for Rask, Clifton in for Grzelcyk (banged up? health bomb?) was the only other roster change from the last game. The B’s started on the PK as Clifton airmailed one over the glass at 00:56 of the first.

Way to make sure the coaches notice that you’re back there Cliffy.

The B’s killed off the penalty (and held the Rags 0 for 6 on the PP) and actually had a little jump in the first five minutes of the game. That didn’t last as they couldn’t get anything going through the neutral zone for most of the period and were outshot 11-6 in the opening set. Biggest moment of the first was Halak absolutely robbing wunderkind Lafreniere at the right post. Taking an airborne feed from the left wing, Lafreniere batted the puck out of midair on net. Sliding across from right to left, Halak got his right pad on the puck as Lafreniere was looking far side. Save of the game 9:00 into the first. Tied at zeroes heading into the second period.

The temperature certainly got turned up in the 2nd as there were several big hits thrown and play got chippy. At the end of a NY PK (Lemieux for boarding, finally got to see the similarity between him and his old man. Lemieux senior: 1215 GP and 1777 PIM: an absolute all time scumbag) Trouba came in high on Zboril and McAvoy took exception and that was the opening bell for Friday night fights at The Garden. Lemieux vs. Frederic (decision to Lemieux) was a spirited bout and Frederic definitely wanted another go and made it very clear barking at Lemieux as the two headed to the box. At the 15 minute mark Lauzon went with Buchnevich and this one went the Bruins way, although the game misconduct that accompanied the fight led to a lot of ice time for the remaining Boston blue liners.

Nick Ritchie. Ok, I need a minute here. I’m seriously having a hard time with this. Do I like Nick Ritchie now? Is there a 3rd Ritchie brother we can try? He is somehow 4th on the team in points and is playing (wipes sweat off forehead) well. He made a great play ON A BACKCHECK tonight, holy shit where’d that come from? He makes David Backes look fast. I feel like Charlie Brown and Ritchie is Lucy and me believing in him is the football that gets pulled away. I want to believe, I want to root for him, but I’m.. so.. conflicted. Whew, that was a journey, thanks for listening, I do feel better getting that off my chest. Anywho, Ritchie scored (gulp) in the middle of the 2nd as he came in on the right wing and put a backhander at almost no angle against Shesterkin. The puck wasn’t settled and Ritchie put the rebound off Shesterkin’s pads and in. The Bruins never looked back as that goal held up as the game winner.

The final frame was much like the first, a little bit of a tractor pull with a heavily clogged up neutral zone. Not many chances to gain the zone with possession for either team as most play was kept on the walls. The third line stuck out for two very different reasons tonight. DeBrusk built off of (arguably) his best game of the year with 1 shot on net and was nearly invisible for good portions of the game. The plus side was riding the opposite wing as Anders Bjork played effective hockey in all three zones. He used his skating ability to pressure the puck and to push the pace with possession and was tough along the wall. That was the Bjork that everyone who saw him play at Notre Dame has been waiting to see in the NHL. I would love to see Frederic with Coyle and Bjork for a game just to see what it would look like.

A little edge of your seat viewing late in the third. McAvoy sailed one out over the glass for a delay of game with the Rangers on the power play with just over a minute left to play. The Rangers pulled the goalie and it was 6 on 4 for the duration. Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller did the job however, and kept the puck on the kick plate behind Halak for 30 seconds of that last minute of regulation. Game over, Bruins win and off to Long Island to (hopefully) avenge their only regulation loss of the year.

Plus/Minus

Plus

  • Sticking up for your teammate. McAvoy looking after Zboril (mentioned above) and Clifton jumping in for Marchy during a scrum in the 2nd. That’s what’s needed for successful hockey.
  • The Bruins have 5 players with double digit points at the 13 game mark. I don’t know how that matches up historically, but I think that’s good?
  • The Bruins have arguably the best goaltending in the NHL. Las Vegas, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Arizona? The Rask/Halak tandem are right there with them.

Minus

  • Inconsistency from the bottom 6. Kuraly, DeBrusk, and Coyle have all been up and down in terms of their play. Maybe it’s because of the expectations that go with them, but it needs to be better.
  • Power play adjustments. If NY is keying on Pasta and Bergy, the Bruins need to adjust. To make my point: The Rangers were hard on the points during early PP’s and the Bruins adjusted. A few times they had 1 player (Krecji and Marchand) at the top.
  • Secondary scoring. The Bruins need offense from the bottom 6 too.

Game Notes:

  • McAvoy didn’t miss an opportunity to play the body on Kakko. That should be great for the next 10-12 years.
  • How much would it suck to be on the Bruins PP2 unit? They barely get out there. Tonight there were 2x that the PP1 unit were out there for all or almost all of the 2 mins.
  • Funny pregame skate issue. If you were watching the NESN feed they showed Marchy and Zibanijed with a stare down as both wanted to be the last off the ice. It was settled with a long distance game of rock-paper-scissors and Marchy took the L and exited gracefully. By the way, speaking of Zibanijed: as good a player that he is, he looks like an extra from The Wire season 2. Can’t you see him at the docks as one of The Greeks dew-boys?

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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