The Bruins were back on home ice tonight hosting the woeful Buffalo Sabres. At this point of the season, every game is a must win and after getting embarrassed by the Sabres last time the 2 teams met, the B’s were looking for a decisive win over an inferior opponent. It wasn’t as clean as the coaching staff would’ve liked, but the B’s get it done with a 5-2 win and most importantly, secure the 2 points.
Bruce Cassidy rolled out the same lineup as last game, except he elevated Trent Frederic to the 3rd line and dropped Nick Ritchie to the fourth. Most importantly in regards to the forwards was that DeBrusk was health-bombed again, hallelujah. Tuukka Rask was back in net with Jaro Halak backing him up.
The Bruins got it going on The Erection Line’s first shift as Marchand stole the puck at the red line and carried it into the Buffalo zone. As he drove down the RW wall he found Bergeron at the top of the circle who then went cross-zone with a no look to pass to Pastrnak at the LW dot. You can tell that whatever was ailing Pasta has run it’s course as his one timers have had some pop to them the last few games that had been missing previously. This one found it’s mark (even if it was a little ahead of him, c’mon Bergy be better), and he beat Luukkonen short side over the blocker. 1-0 good guys. Late in the period, Buffalo got one back after 4-5 minutes of sloppy play and poor puck management by the Bruins. Pastrnak turned it over in the Boston zone and Rask saved the initial shot but the rebound bounced right to Mittelstadt who had the whole net. Tie game. That score held until a late power play for the Bruins cashed in. With time expiring, McAvoy worked the top of the umbrella going from LW to RW and found Krecji back against the grain at the LW circle where Pastrnak sets up. Perfect pass from Chuckie and Krecji went near bar off the goalie and in with 00:03 left on the clock. What do we always say? Those late goals are back breakers.
The Bruins seemed to get more jump after Buffalo tied it up and I’ll give a big portion of the credit to Sean Kuraly. Talk about a big boy shift. I wish I had the game footage (and the knowledge of how) to cut it up and share it, cause he was an absolute beast. As a one man fore-check; he dogged the puck all over the offensive zone not letting Buffalo work the puck up the wall. He went 1 on 3 down low multiple times and kept the puck deep in the Sabres zone while the Bruins completed an entire change. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the Bruins seemed to wake up after Kuraly’s effort out there. He carried that energy into the 2nd where he was outstanding on the PK and was hitting everything in blue and white. Have yourself a game Kuraly!
Biggest save of the night by Rask when Dahlin walked in alone out of the penalty box. There wasn’t a Bruin within 15 feet of him as he drove the net looking 5-hole. Tuukka showed it and then took it away, making it look easy. Rask was on top of the blue paint tonight, challenging shooters and cutting down angles. He was absolutely dialed in. Sad that his point streak had to end. Per NESN he now has 17pts in 556GP, not a big deal. The 2-1 score held as the period ended, but it wouldn’t be an old Adams Division game without a little nasty out there. As the horn blew to end the period, Marchand laid a big check on Dahlin against the neutral zone boards. The teams gathered and there was no PIMS, but that was the Marchand this team needs, playing to the final whistle and going juuuuuust up to the line without going over. Perfect.
Buffalo tied it up again early in the 3rd as Lauzon, McAvoy and Bergeron inexplicably went behind the net against 2 Sabres leaving the slot wide open. Low to high, bang bang play that Rask had no chance on and just like that tie game. Something I noticed each time the Sabres tied it up, they slowed the game waaaaaay down. D to D multiple times, up the wall, chip and chase. It seemed as if they were playing for the tie, I guess 1 point is better than none is maybe a team goal? At the 8 minute mark Charlie Coyle put the B’s ahead for good when he stole the puck at the red line and drove the net rag dolling both defenders en route to beating Tuukkonen over the glove. That’s the longest goal drought of his 9-year career over and done with. It’s amazing how many Bruins fans that “know hockey” were all over Coyle. He’s always been a solid defender and was never expected to replace Cam Neely here. It’s almost daily that I hear from 1 moron or another about how he’s not living up to his potential. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is possibly the best 3rd line center in the NHL. Ok, he played wing tonight but whatevs.
As pretty as Coyle’s goal was, Krecji is a fucking wizard. As Home Boy Jack likes to say, he’s “a master at manipulating time and space”, and it’s true. Krecji walked Dahlin at the blue line and then toe dragged Jokiharju in the slot before laying it over for Taylor Hall for the easy put in. Watch the clip as Jokiharju goes sliding out of frame, if it wasn’t for the end boards he would have slid all the way to McCann’s. He is The Matrix. Marchand closed out the scoring with a 180-foot empty netter while killing a late penalty. For those scoring at home that’s SH-ENG, Marchand’s 4th of the year to lead the Bruins who have 9 shorties to lead the NHL.
Wizardry in motion. Pure unadulterated filth.
The Bruins host the Sabres again for a matinee on Saturday before heading to New Jersey for a pair against the Devils. With 7 games left on the schedule for the Bruins, they are only 5 points behind the 1st place Caps and 6 points ahead of the 5th place Rangers. Still a lot of hockey to play.
- Pastrnak looks back, Krecji line on the scoresheet and Coyle with a tuck.
- Cassidy juggled the D pairs and it generated more offense. McAvoy/Lauzon – Miller/Gryzelcyk and Reilly/Clifton. Also, I liked Reilly on PP1. As Butchie said pregame “he’s pass ready and he’s shot ready”. Sounds good to me. Coaching matters.
- Brandon Carlo skated today at practice with no restrictions and is going on the NJ trip. Let’s go!
- Too many turnovers and instances of sloppy play
- Playing down to an inferior team. The Bruins should have put this one away early.
- That’s it. They played a good game.
- Gotta take your lumps when they’re due. It was pointed out to me that I made a mistake on the last blog crediting Craig Smith for an apple on Hall’s goal, when he never touched the puck. Apparently my buddy studied the video like it was the Zapruder film and after much dissection he realized the puck stayed with Hall the entire sequence and never went back and to the left, back and to the left, back and to the left to Smith. Must be some kind of magic puck. I’ll take the hit on this one, I do have my professionalism to think of but goddamit, Craig Smith works his bag off every shift of every game and if anyone deserves a phantom apple it’s that guy. I mean look at this beauty. So, my bad I was quick on the trigger with the assist; but ultimately, screw you Garvs.