B’s Handle Pens

The Bruins took on the Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh, the last stop of their 9-day, 5 game roadtrip. Coming off back-to-back losses, the B’s were looking to get back in the win column and get back to the style of play that made them so successful over the last month. With a full game effort (and some line juggling), the B’s got it done with a 3-1 victory over the Pens handing the flightless birds just their 5th loss at home this year. 

Cassidy called out the 3rd and 4th lines after the loss to the Pens on Sunday and Jake DeBrusk specifically. “We need a better compete level out of him” Cassidy said when questioned about DeBrusk being health-bombed for tonight’s game. The coach also talked about “playing for the crest on the front” being more important than any “individual stats”. Couldn’t agree with you more Butchie. So changes were made and Trent Frederic got the nod on the 4th line with Kuraly playing at the pivot on the 3rd line with Coyle sliding to the wing opposite Ritchie. On the back end, Clifton slotted back in for Kampfer and Rask was back in net with Jaro Halak (who has been called the best #2 of all time) backing him up. 

The B’s had noticeably more jump than the last game, and weren’t afraid to take the body whenever it presented itself. Tuukka looked sharp from the opening faceoff, anticipating shots and making the tough saves look routine as his angles were spot on. The biggest push the Pens made in the 1st was at the 18 minute mark when Rask blockered down the point shot through traffic and then denied the 2 rebounds from in tight in the slot. Lots of bodies flying around and Rask looked strong on the puck. There was a low key play earlier in the period that speaks to Charlie McAvoy’s development. Pastrnak carried the puck into the Pens zone with McAvoy trailing. As McAvoy got over the blue line he looked back to see where Bergeron was, after spotting Bergy trailing, McAvoy put his head down and drove the net creating the triangle with Bergy and Pasta. The play didn’t convert but it spoke to McAvoy’s game awareness. I’d love to take credit for noticing it on my own, but Andy Brickley pointed it out on the NESN feed. I’m sure I would have had it, but I appreciate the assist Brick. 

The Bruins dominated the first statistically and built off that momentum to carry the play in the 2nd period. That paid off when Krecji finally broke the ice in the last 2 minutes of the middle frame. McAvoy carried the puck out of his own end and feathered a puck to Krecji just over the Pens blueline. Krecji gathered the puck in and then dragged it between his legs and walked Matheson to go over the pad and under the glove on Jarry. 1-0 good guys. You could tell that Chuckie Bright Lights was feeling it tonight with a team high 27:52 TOI in 32 shifts.

Sorry Ked, Adam Fox can’t carry his jock. 

Bruins alum Mike Sullivan must have blistered the paint in the Pens locker room as Pittsburgh came out firing on all cylinders to start the third. By far their best pressure of the game, but Rask was big and kept the Pens off the scoresheet until the Bruins got their legs back under them. Jeremy Lauzon showed Teddy Blueger why he should always check the game notes bud as the 2 squared off and Lauzon pumped him full of right hands before getting the decision on all cards.

The tilt seemed to get the Bruins offense going as Marchand scored less than 3 minutes later to put the Bruins up by a pair. Marchand got a shot on net from the LW circle and the puck bounced right to Pastrnak who was driving the net. Pastrnak put the puck on net and it bounced off Jarry’s shoulder and landed in the paint for Marchy to sweep into the net. Bruins up by 2 goals. Hall closed out the Boston scoring for the night when he beat Jarry with a drag snap shot from the high slot over the blocker. Hall worked the puck out of the Bruins end and found Krecji streaking through the neutral zone. Krecji gained the line and went back across the grain to Smith who then found Hall with a short pass on the tape where Hall took 2 strides and let it rip. As Home Boy Jack said on the NESN feed “That’s why he’s here!!” F-ing A right Jack.

Jeff Carter got one back for the Pens as he showed that age doesn’t affect your shot when he beat Tuukka from the RW dot. Letang hit him with a homerun pass as the Bruins were changing (pro tip, maybe don’t have all 5 guys peel off when the Pens have the puck looking to break out?) and Carter unloaded a clapper that beat Rask far side bar in. The Pens pulled Jarry with about 2:30 left and it was scrambly for the Bruins as they repeatedly were denied clearing the puck. Ultimately they got it done and head home trailing the Islanders by only 1 point with at least 1 game in hand over everyone above them in the standings. 

Plus/Minus

Plus:

  • Frederic and Ritchie swapped spots on their lines midway through the 2nd period and it looked much better. Freddie-Kuraly-Coyle is a great third line (I could also see Lazar on that line). Cassidy had Coyle on the wing to get him going offensively, but late in the game, it was Coyle taking defensive face-offs. If you’re not scoring you have to impact the game in other ways and Coyle does that on a nightly basis. Good coaching can make all the difference.
  • The Bruins took the body whenever it was available but didn’t go out of their way looking to make hits, they just didn’t fly by any opportunities to throw a check. That can make a big difference especially over a 7 game series.
  • With his 2nd point, Rask is now tied for third amongst goalies this season.

Minus:

  • Dumb penalties. Too many men on the ice? C’mon. You cannot give the Penguins that many power play opportunities.
  • Game awareness and puck management. Almost cost them a number of times, definitely cost them on the Carter goal. Tuukka deserved the shutout tonight.

Game Notes:

  • I’m going to describe a play that showcases how much better it is to have Frederic in the lineup instead of DeBrusk. At the 12:00 mark of the 2nd period Miller pinched down the wall and Frederic slid back to man the point in the Pens’ end. The puck came out and the Pens came down 2 on 2 vs. Frederic and Reilly. Frederic took his man to the wall in the Bruins defensive zone eliminating him from the play and then stayed with his man as the Pens player drove the Bruins net. Frederic kept the Pens player’s stick tied up denying him the attempt on the loose puck at the goalmouth before the puck went around the boards and back to the point. Frederic got back to his normal spot (as Miller got back into his defensive position) defending the point and half wall and when the puck was cycled to his side he stepped up on the Pens defenseman and blocked a backscratcher off his legs then calmly flipped the puck into the neutral zone as the Bruins made a complete change. NO FUCKING CHANCE THAT DEBRUSK WOULD EVER MAKE ANY PART OF THAT PLAY. I saw more out of Frederic in that one shift then I’ve seen out of DeBrusk in the last month and a half. “Hello Seattle? I have a former first round pick for you”

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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