Is There a Vaccine for the Islanders?

The Bruins were back in action after their COVID-cation and hosted the Islanders for the first game of a 7 game homestand. NY came into this game with an 8-2-0 record over their last 10 games, while the Bruins were 5-3-2 over that same span. The B’s forced overtime (however brief it may have been) but ultimately fell to the Islanders 4-3. 

Tuukka Rask was back in net after being shutdown with a back ailment, and Jarred Tinordi was back in the lineup after only missing one game after a scary tumble into the boards last week. Up front David Krecji was with Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith while Charlie Coyle centered Karson Kuhlman and Anders Bjork as the 3rd line. Trent Frederic and Chris Wagner were the wingers on the 4th unit with Greg McKegg at the pivot; and of course the top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand remained intact. 

The hope was that the forced COVID-time off was going to benefit the B’s, give them a chance to heal up a bit and that they would come out firing on all cylinders. Too bad they were playing the Islanders. The Bruins and Islanders have played 5 times so far this season and so far, the Bruins haven’t won a game. At least this time they forced OT to secure a point. Small victory, but at this point I’ll take it.

The Bruins looked good in the first, they were playing with a good pace and their gaps were tight. Rask looked good, squared up on top of his crease, and in good position throughout. It looked like the layoff might have done him some good. Kuhlman got his first of the year (and per Homeboy Jack on the NESN feed: his first goal in 397 days) off a Charlie McAvoy rebound to give the fans (in the building!!!!) something to cheer about. McAvoy walked down the RW wall and threw one on net that Varlamov steered to the opposite dot. Kuhlman gathered in the puck and made a move as if to go up the wall to the point, which the winger dropping down completely bit on (kind of a sonk – maybe a sonk-adjacent?). He then pivoted back down and put a wrister on net that beat Varlamov over the glove far side. 1-0 good guys. Late in the first Stevie Kampfer got his first of the year and put the B’s up by 2 on the power play. Read that sentence again: Kampfer – power play. Just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss that (this was Kampfer’s first goal in 732 days : once again according to Homeboy Jack). Krecji bailed himself out of trouble when he found McAvoy at the top of the umbrella;  McAvoy then practically bounced the puck to Kampfer at the top of the LW dot where he put a one timer past Varlamov. Bruins head to the room with the 2-0 lead. 

Rask had an awkward play late in the first as he was diving after a loose puck next to the net. He looked uncomfortable leaving the ice and went down the tunnel with a definite lean in his gait. Jaro Halak was in net to start the 2nd and we can only hope that Rask hasn’t re-injured himself. After killing off a double minor for high sticking the Islanders got on the board in the “vulnerable minute” as Mayfield joined the rush coming out of the box to make it a 3 on 2 coming into the Bruins zone. Pageau (of course it was him) gets the goal to continue to be a thorn in the side of the Bruins this year. Roughly two minutes later Bailey ties it up walking down the slot from the right point and I’ve got a baaaaaad feeling about this. 

Coming out for the 3rd, you could see the tempo increase. Wide open (or at least as wide open as the Bruins get) hockey and trading chances, the Islanders got on the board at the 17 minute mark as former wunderkid Wahlstrom roofed a backhand past Halak to make it 3-2. Lot of talk about Wahlstrom for the Calder online. Not sure if I see it, but I don’t watch all the NY games. Less than a minute later Bjork tied it up when he put one over Valamov’s glove. Wagner sealed the puck in on the RW wall and the Islanders had to reverse it behind their net. Coyle with the heavy forecheck stole the puck and from Gretzky’s office found Bjork in the slot for a one timer. All tied up heading for extra hockey.

You can view OT in it’s entirety below: BRUTAL

We can only thank the Hockey Gods that the Bruins play Buffalo next. Back at it on Saturday.

Plus/Minus:

Plus

  • Anders Bjork. I would say he was the best Bruins player tonight, and I would have said that before his goal. He was tough on the puck and was involved in all 3 zones, just a tremendous game for him. A couple of health bombs and he certainly looked like he got the message.
  • Scoring from players other than the Bergeron Line. I wouldn’t count on tonight’s scorers to do it on a regular basis, but anything is an improvement.
  • In that same vein: The Bruins scored 2g in 5 on 5 play. Coming into the game they were the worst team in the East Division scoring only 59% of their goals at full strength (the Isles are best in the East scoring 76% of their goals 5 on 5). It was good to get a couple.

Minus

  • Power play needs to be better, especially with a double minor. They barely got any shots on net all night and when they got set up they were kept to the perimeter.
  • I’m not calling them the Erection Line until they get it going. I refuse to be your fluffer.
  • Karson Kuhlman blocked a shot and was out for the game. Hope it’s not something too serious, but it looked like it caught him on the back of his hand. Not a lot of padding.

Game Notes:

I don’t care what anyone says. This guy is an absolute beast. He should win another 4 Selkes. No game notes – just watch this Bergeron shift. Nothing shows up on the scoresheet but talking about impacting the game. What a legend.

Stick tap to the guys at Bruins Diehards for the clip

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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