Hats Off to Mr. Smith

The Bruins hosted Buffalo this afternoon for the finale of their season series. The B’s took care of business with relative ease, hanging 6 on the Sabres and securing another 2 points in the standings. The Bruins have gone 12-4-1 in their last 17 games and are ramping up their game play at the right time. The on ice chemistry is visible not only with The Erection Line but with the Krecji line as well as Craig Smith notched his 1st hat trick as a Bruin and the B’s got contributions from up and down the roster. 

Smith got it going on the Krecji line’s 1st shift of the day when he redirected a perfect (what else) Krecji feed past Luukkonen to put the B’s up less than 90 seconds into the game. Taylor Hall has clearly taken the red pill and has since joined Krecji in his ability to control time and space and slooooooooow down the play to get the secondary apple on Smith’s goal.

Tic-Tac-Goal: 1-0 good guys. Just watch Hall’s patience on this play.

As Andy Brickley said on the NESN feed, “the only blemish on a perfect period was the Bruins power play”. It did not look good in terms of entry and shots on net, and only looked worse when Buffalo scored a shortie when Sheahan beat Swayman glove side. No matter what level hockey, be it high school, beer league or the NHL; every single person who’s ever played knows the feeling when the puck goes by you and you look up to see an opposing player all alone going in on your goalie. Matt Grzelcyk we all know your pain. 

The retooled 3rd line (Kuraly with Coyle and Ritchie) put the B’s back up as they kept Buffalo pinned in with a heavy forecheck and strong work on the walls. Coyle put the puck on net and the rebound found Ritchie in the slot. The big guy took some pokes at the bouncing puck and it skidded over to Kuraly at the left post where he went upstairs to put the B’s back up by a goal. He even added a Kuraly Leap but as Home Boy Jack said on the broadcast, he’s saving the big ones for the playoffs. Funniest bit of the entire day was when Kuraly was being interviewed between periods and was asked about what he was thinking on the net drive. “I’ve found the less I think, the better off I am”, sage advice for us all Kurls. 

The 2nd period got a little sloppy from the Bruins perspective as (once again); puck management became an issue, as the B’s were playing down to their AHL level opponent. Bergeron (in front of his kids who were in attendance) scored the eventual game winner off a Lauzon drive from the left point. Marchand came out of the RW circle and found Lauzon at the blue line, his half clap found Luukkonen’s right pad and died in the blue paint where Bergy was able to collect it and put it in on his backhand. As if the total domination at the Bruin’s hands wasn’t bad enough for Buffalo, their goalie of the future appeared to hyperflex his knee in the closing seconds of the middle period. Luukkonen had to be helped off the ice and wasn’t putting any weight on his leg. 

Hi Dad.

Originally tweeted by Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) on May 1, 2021.

The Bruins blew it open in the 3rd period as first Ritchie and then Smith (again) got on the board. Ritchie got his blade on a Grzelcyk shot from the left point, redirecting the puck upstairs and then Smith got his 2nd from in tight. As sweet as the play on Smith’s first goal, check out the passing from both Krecji and Reilly on Smitty’s second tuck. 

Originally tweeted by Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) on May 1, 2021.

Some sloppy play gave Buffalo a bit of life when Ruotsahleinen was inexplicably left alone in front of the Bruins net to put one 5-hole on Swayman. It looked like Lauzon was caught in between what he wanted to do and what he should do so instead he did nothing. Tough play, but ultimately it only cost the B’s a garbage goal. The B’s got it back on a late power play when Krecji only had eyes for Smith and found him in the high slot to complete the hatty. Krecji with a give and go (between the legs) with Smith and then he curled out to the LW circle while Smith maneuvered to the high slot. Krecji with the hot pass and Smith redirects past Tokarski who had come in as relief. Cassidy rolled out PP2 to start the power play and you could tell they all wanted Smith to get the hatty. After the game Butchie commented how popular Smith has become in the room and how the entire bench was pulling for him. Gotta love that.

Some great effort from (most of) the B’s forwards throughout the entire game today. Ritchie caught Reinhart on a backcheck in the play prior to his goal, Karson Kuhlman was involved in all 3 zones and Curtis Lazar beat out an icing call with less than 30 seconds left in the game. That type of effort doesn’t go unnoticed in the room as the boys all strive to get going in the same direction heading into the playoffs. 

Up next a pair against the Devils, who have given the Bruins a tough go of it all season.

Plus/Minus

Plus:

  • Activated defense. The D figured in all the goals today, even if they didn’t make the scoresheet. Miller and McAvoy had great outlets and quick ups all day and Clifton was making great pinches down the wall. Clifton has come a long way with his decision making and had a great game today.
  • Marchand and Pastrnak both dropping the gloves to defend themselves and each other. Now I don’t want to see either of these guys fighting on the reg, but with Dahlin taking liberties with both of them (borderline hit on Pasta and crosschecks on Marchy) good to see them both willing to go back at him and defend themselves and each other.
  • Swayman didn’t look great on the SHG but he battled through the boredom (Buffalo had 19 shots on goal) and made some tough saves later in the game.

Minus:

  • Instances of poor puck management again today. Against a real NHL team that will cost them.
  • DeBrusk back in the lineup. I mean, why? He had 1 shot on net in just under 17 minutes TOI. Still coughing the puck up when people give him a dirty look, still refusing to take the body, and still gliding on the back check. Kuhlman played today like he was shot out of a cannon, that’s what you expect from a guy who’s been health bombed. DeBrusk is 10-ply, for the love of God, put Frederic back in and we’ll see Jake in a Kracken uniform (hopefully).

Game Notes:

  • Marchand was named NHL first star for April. Check out his stat line and tell me you wouldn’t want him on your team: 17GP : 14G-10A-24pts and +15. Is that good?
  • Since Torey Krug is now in St. Louis, apparently Pasta has found a new pregame playmate:

Originally tweeted by Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) on May 1, 2021.

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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