The Bruins hosted the Islanders this evening for the 1st half of back to backs. Boston had been winless against NY this season and were looking to build off their last win against Buffalohno. The home town team turned in an almost complete game as the Bruins handled the Islanders 4-1 and sent the 2,191 fans in attendance home happy.
Butch Cassidy tried a few different combos up front but it seems as if the 4th line is here to stay. For the 2nd game in a row; Lazar, Wagner and Kuraly were impacting the play all over the ice and got the start in order to set the tone. The Erection Line was back together in what appears to be an attempt to get Pastrnak going, as he’s gone almost invisible as of late. Krecji centered Hall and Smith while Coyle and Ritchie were saddled with DeBrusk. On the back end, McAvoy and Lauzon were the top pair with Reilly and Clifton together and Kampfer and Zboril as the 3rd pairing.
The biggest lineup news? Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes looking as filthy as ever.
The Bruins got it going 2 minutes in when Marchand put one in off his backside. Pastrnak threw one at the net from his off wing where it missed wide but was corralled at the left point by Reilly. He then wristed the puck on net where Bergeron got the redirect at the left circle, off Marchy’s back and into the net. Just like they drew it up pregame. The puck was in and out of the net so quickly that it wasn’t ruled a goal until after a review. One thing that I will say about this play is that it speaks to the ability that Reilly has to get pucks on net and in tippable spots. It’s been great to see that as opposed to the big backscratcher into the forward’s kneepads and a breakaway the other way. Late in the 1st, the white hot Smith got the eventual game winner on an double minor coming off of 4 on 4 play. Krecji drove the right wing and feathered one to Smith in the high slot where he went low blocker side to put the Bruins up for good. Was great to see the PP2 unit get some work out there with the double and good for Smith who brings it every night.
The Islanders came out for the 2nd with their best pressure of the night and Zajac got them on the board after some wizardry by Barzal. Coming off a rare Marchand turnover, Barzal dragged the puck behind the net and then went back against the grain to Zajac out front. Every time I see Barzal dangle around 3 guys it just makes me that much madder at DeBrusk’s play. I know it’s not fair, but it is what it is. Varlamov and Rask were dueling throughout the rest of the 2nd as the Bruins picked up the tempo to match the Islanders. The Bruins dominated in the 1st outshooting the Islanders 23-7, but NY closed the gap in the 2nd for sure and Rask made it look easy. Guy misses 2 weeks and is back there flashing the glove and hugging the post like it’s not a big deal ho-hum.
Taylor Hall got his first (of many many many hopefully) in the 3rd when Pasta found him in stride at the red line with a sick pass out of the D zone. Hall blew by the defender and beat Varlamov 5-hole to put the B’s back up by a pair. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Hall play that much this year and I know he’s been a healthy scratch for a bit before coming over, but the jump he had after he scored was noticeable. If he can get going approaching his level when he was in NJ then look out. Marchy with the empty netter to wrap up the scoring and the 2 teams will be back at it tomorrow night.
As Butchie said in his post game “There were no passengers tonight.”
- A balanced attack. Hall has the chance to be the best binky Krecji has had since Lucic. Lazar is the engine that is driving the new Merlot line and they look great. Everyone slots into where they are supposed to be and if the Bruins can get Frederic back healthy, ol’ Jake can get his popcorn on the ninth floor. Or try Kuhlamn or Blidh or Senshyn in that spot.
- The Bruins showed up “on time tonight” as Brick put it on the NESN feed. They had jump and played hard from the opening face. Another 15 games heading into the playoffs to make that the norm.
- As homeboy Jack likes to say “2 U’s, 2 K’s, 2 points”. Good to see Rask back in net.
- Power play had trouble with entry and (at first) didn’t look as slick as when Grzelcyk is out there.
- Pastrnak and DeBrusk are turnover machines as of late. You can add this to the other DeBrusk transgressions, but if Pastrnak stays quiet like this then it’s something that will need addressing prior to playoffs.
- A few instances of sloppy puck management didn’t cost the Bruins outside of the Zajac goal, but still, you gotta clean it up.
- Marchand notched his 20th and 21st tucks of the year. That’s at least 20g for 10 of his 12 seasons in the NHL. Beauty.
- If Craig Smith isn’t the 7th player this year then the award is a joke.
- Rask earned his 300th career victory tonight as the Bruins win leader and the only goalie in team history to break the 300 W barrier. Only 3 other goalies have broken even 200 for the Bruins. Rask is in a class by himself.