Gimme a Halak Yeah!

The Bruins welcomed in the Rangers tonight for their 5th meeting of the season. Looking to gain some ground in the standings, Boston jumped out in front with 2 tucks in the opening period and never looked back. Jaro Halak earned his 2nd shutout of the season as the B’s put together an (almost) complete game. Chris Wagner and Anders Bjork got the night off, while Jake DeBrusk got back in and Zach Senyshyn made his season debut. 

Prior to the game the B’s braintrust left no doubt about what they were expecting from specific players and the team in general. GM Don Sweeney was asked yesterday if the team had the scoring depth in the system to get it going. “Not at the current rate that we’re going. Clearly we’ve played well defensively in the past 5 games, we just haven’t generated, or finished. Five-on-five is just not where it needs to be to consistently win or to extend leads. So yeah, I think it’s a major concern for us.” Based on those comments, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him make a serious move ahead of the April 12 NHL trade deadline. And not a bottom 6 forward type move, I’m looking to see him bring in a legit top 6 winger or a top 4 (lefty) defenseman. Probably wishful thinking, but maybe I can will it into reality.

Bruce Cassidy was more direct when asked pregame about his decision to move DeBrusk from the doghouse to the lineup. “I don’t think there’s any grey area in that right now. We need him to play better, so how is he gonna play better? The message from me to him is: It’s a second effort league and you need more second effort.” Pretty much sums it up. However I will give credit where it’s due, DeBrusk skated his ass off tonight. No longer was he passing up the opportunities to play the body, he was looking for it. No more flybys, it was all hard stop and goes. Proving that hard work gets rewarded, he scored his 2nd goal of the year on a one-timer from (who else?) David Krecji about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. Just 1:21 earlier Krecji notched his 1st of the year with a clapper from the point set up by a nice feed from Matt Grzelcyk on the PP. Good to see Krecji and Grz together on the first unit again, everything seems to flow better with them up top. 

This game was over late in the first as you could practically see the Rags throw in the towel. The Erection Line got things going with only 4:00 minutes played when David Pastrnak beat out an icing call and one-touched the puck to Patrice Bergeron. Bergy lost the handle but Brad Marchand was coming out from behind the NY net and corralled the puck at the dot finding Pasta at the blue line for a clapper that beat Georgiev high stick side. A pretty goal that was the result of hard work by the top line. But the dagger was when Bergy scored a shortie to put the Bruins up by two. Killing a penalty late in the first, Marchand and Bergeron broke up ice with Charlie McAvoy trailing and weaved their way over the NY blue line. Seeing the forward Buchnevich back on D, Marchy went straight at him and walked him with a backhand drag through his own legs, he then waited for Fox to slide by on his belly and found Bergy for his 19th career SHG. Our captain here at The Morning Skate likes to compare Foxie to Brian Leetch (Check out literally ANY of The Morning Skate podcasts to hear that comparison in real time). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Leetch slide feet first into the corner on his tummy, but ok Ked.  

Literally….. Any….. Episode

Halak played arguably his best game of the year tonight. He was on top of his crease, cutting down angles and squared up to shooters throughout the game, stopping the 28 shots he faced. He was huge in the first as the Rangers came out with some jump and he kept the B’s in this one. His biggest save of the night was probably when Lindgren came out of the box on a breakaway looking 5-hole and Halak shut the door. You could see the light go out in the Rangers’ eyes and the game was over. Put 2 points in the bank and we’ll see the Rangers again for a matinee on Saturday. 

Plus/Minus:

Plus:

  • Secondary Scoring: Maybe, just maybe this will get the Krecji line going?
  • Senyshyn and Kuraly had multiple 2 on 1 breakaways and this was their first game together. Remember that Marchand started on the grinder line too and look at him.
  • The Bruins were back to their defensively responsible play and they took the body all over the ice. That is the recipe for winning hockey. Forecheck – Backcheck – Paycheck.

Minus:

  • The Bruins took a chunk of time off in the middle frame. The game was in hand and the Rangers were just dumping and changing, but they cannot continue to take that time off during games.
  • This is in the nitpicky category: When the Rangers pulled Georgiev the Bruins didn’t land a shot on net for almost 6 minutes. With no warm up I would have liked to see them test Kinkaid immediately.
  • Lots of bumps and bruises. Ritchie, Zboril, Marchand, and Smith all took some time down the tunnel during the game before continuing. Makes me nervous. With the amount of injuries the Bruins already have they cannot afford to keep losing players.

Game Notes:

  • Brad Marchand just passed Ken Hodge for sole possession of 8th place in Bruins points
  • Goalie Porn: Halak had his 52nd career shutout and has posted a .977 save percentage over his last 3 games.
  • The much derided (by me) 2015 Bruins first round draft picks all played in an NHL game together tonight for the first time. Zboril, DeBrusk and Senyshyn were famously (infamously?) picked 13-14-15 in the first round ahead of Mathew Barzal.

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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