The Boston Bruins took the ice tonight at the TD Garden to kick off their 89th year in front of 17,850 of the Black and Gold Faithful. Their opponent was not only the Dallas Stars but also the expectations of all of those in attendance. They vanquished the Stars with a 3-1 win, and sent those in attendance home with a spring in their step and the trademark positivity that this fan base is known for.
Jeremy Swayman got the nod in net for puck drop and was the first rookie net minder to start a season since Blaine Lacher did it back in 1995. At the other end of the ice was the Bruins nemesis from Washington: Braden Holtby. You remember Holtby right? Plays as if the Bruins shoot beach balls at him? The guy whose lifetime stat line vs. Boston reads: 23GP 18-5 record 1.98GAA and .940% save percentage. Yeah that guy.
The Bruins rolled out the Erection Line with Charlie “I have secured the bag” McAvoy and new partner Derek Forbort. Charlie Coyle centered Craig Smith and Taylor Hall with Erik Haula at the pivot between Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk. The Merlot Line had Tomas Nosek between Karson Kuhlman and Trent Frederic. On the back end Matt Grzelcyk was with Connor Clifton to start and Brandon Carlo rode with Mike Reilly.
Swayman wasn’t tested early on as the Bruins controlled the pace and tempo and outshot the Stars 17-4 in the opening frame. The biggest test Swayman faced in the opening frame was a Jamie Benn wrister from the RW dot. Sway gloved it with nonchalance as Brick gave an admiring whistle on the replay calling him “calm, cool and collected”. I mean seriously, how is this kid not in the talk for Calder?
The Bruins employed a noticeably more aggressive fore-check in the first period sending the lead winger behind the Dallas net to push the pace. While that did translate on the stat line, it didn’t translate to the score sheet as the teams were knotted at zeroes late in the period. Until they weren’t. Brad Marchand picked off an errant pass coming from the Dallas end and walked down the slot (most likely with David Pastrnak offside) and was hauled down as he drove the net. Penalty shot. Marchand made this one count as he beat Holtby 5-hole to put the Bruins up heading into the room.
The 2nd period was more balanced between the teams in terms of zonetime, but the Bruins were still getting the better opportunities. Holtby was solid and was even contributing to transition with his rebound control and hitting outlet passes to the Dallas forwards flying the zone. After hemming in the Bruins in their own zone midway through the period, Luke Glendening had the slot wide open and beat Swayman under the blocker to tie the game. That’s when the Bruins fore-check disappeared and the Stars physicality ramped up. It didn’t help that old friend Chris Rooney was one of the referees tonight. I’m not joking, if fans know the name of the refs, they aren’t doing their job. This son of South Boston likes nothing better to prove that he doesn’t favor the Bruins by handing out penalties for the smallest infractions. It’s no coincidence that the Bruins had half the power plays that the Stars had and there were some non-calls that I still don’t understand. Be ticky-tack all you want, but be consistent.
The 3rd period was big boy hockey as the nasty ratcheted up a few clicks. DeBrusk got the game winner with hard work when Haula worked the puck down the RW wall and Foligno drove it to the net. The puck bounced to DeBrusk who was cruising through the top of the paint and he slid it under Holtby’s right leg to put the B’s ahead.
Marchand put the icing on the cake with an empty netter but Miro Heiskanen tried to split his legs like a wishbone as they slid into the net. I thought it was a borderline dirty play and absolutely unnecessary, but Homeboy Jack Edwards was having none of it as he called it a “suspendable foul” and a “dangerous and dirty play that the NHL will not review nor care”. Starting that fine kitty early hey Jack?
Up next for the Bruins is a trip to Philly and then Buffalo before coming home to host San Jose for a rare Sunday matinee. By the time they face the Panthers on the 27th they should be sitting at 4-0. Here we go Bruins, here we go.
- The new guys. Foligno, Haula, Nosek and Forbort all made their presence felt on the ice tonight. Good to see.
- DeBrusk on the score sheet. Look I know I’ve been hard on him, but if he can figure it out then that’s just a W for the team. By all accounts he’s a great guy, I just hope he keeps skating and no more flybys.
- McAvoy and Grzelcyk weren’t together for any shifts until the Bruins were in a 6 on 4 situation late. It’s great that Butchie has that pairing in his back pocket if he needs it.
- Don’t be a penalty killer on your own power play. Stop taking penalties when up a man. If I know that Rooney is an anti-homer then you should too.
- The D corp looked a little scrambly at times and had trouble clearing the zone. More game play will sort that out.
- A too many men call negated a power play with 6 minutes left in the third. First game for the coaches too.
- Marchand scored the first goal of the season on a penalty shot. Last time that was done by the Bruins was the 2013 season by new assistant coach (and Cup champ) Chris Kelly.
- Re: McAvoy’s contract. His career totals thus far: 235GP 24G-98A-122Pts. He’s averaged 22:51 TOI and going into tonight was a +80. Is that good?
- Nice tribute to former Bruin Jimmy Hayes who passed away this summer. The Devils and Blackhawks did a tribute the other night and the Bruins did their own tonight. RIP to a local who lived out his dreams.
Thinking of you always, Jimmy. 💛🖤