(Almost) Giant Slayers

Your Boston Bruins hosted the all world scumbags Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden tonight in front of another sold out barn. The Bruins dominated the Lighting for the majority of the game in almost every statistical category. The one place the Bolts had the edge? You guessed it, the scoreboard. The B’s managed to salvage a point, but fall in OT by a 3-2 final.

Jeremy Swayman got the nod in net versus Andrei Vasilevskiy in a goaltender duel featuring a past and a (multiple) future Vezina winner.  The forward lines remained static from the NSH game on Thursday, but the back end had some new faces. Charlie McAvoy was held out of tonight’s game for a non-Covid illness, and Jakob Zboril (last seen not putting any weight on his right leg) will be re-evaluated this week. I’m assuming they are letting the swelling subside before the re-evaluation. It was Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk as the top pair and Conor Clifton was back in and lined up with Mike Reilly. Derek Forbort was paired with Jack Ahcan who made his season debut (and 4th NHL game) on the third pairing.

The two teams last faced each other in the Toronto bubble and it’s good to see that Homeboy Jack and me are not the only ones that still hate the Lightning. Tempers were flaring from the opening faceoff and there was “good nasty” (as Jack likes to call it) throughout the game. The Lightning drew first blood while the Bruins were on the man advantage, nothing more deflating than giving up a shorty. Oh wait, what if that shorty is the player’s first NHL goal? Yeah, that’s definitely more deflating. Reilly was at the point on PP1 in McAvoy’s absence and an aerial clear caught him flat footed at the Tampa blue line and Taylor Raddysh was off to the races. Driving the net on his backhand, Raddysh outwaited Swayman and tucked it home for the early lead.

Originally tweeted by Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) on December 5, 2021.

In the middle stanza the Bolts doubled up the Bruins when a bad bounce off Tomas Nosek’s skate got by Swayman. Ondrej Palat was looking for Steven Stamkos driving the net when the puck ricocheted off Nosek’s boot on the back check. Just like that Tampa was up 2-0 despite being outshot 28-13 through 2 periods.

Originally tweeted by Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) on December 5, 2021.

This was a turning point in the game and maybe the season? That’s the 2x defending Stanley Cup champs with a 2-goal lead. You’re missing your best offensive player and your number 1 defenseman. Some teams would roll over and show their belly at this time. Not these beauties. Erik Haula with a monster fore-check gathered the puck at the right post and fed back between his legs cross crease to Charlie Coyle coming down his off wing. Coyle finished the play by beating Vasilevskiy over the blocker to get the Bruins on the board. For all you Coyle haters, in 51 games last year his stat line was 6-10-16; so far in just 21 games this season he’s at 7-6-13. Maybe being healthy and playing on 2 legs makes a difference, yeah? Now shut up and get back in your mom’s basement.

Originally tweeted by Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) on December 5, 2021.

Good guy Curtis Lazar got his first of the year early in the third. Nosek with the hard fore-check forced Tampa to rim the puck where it took a funny bounce off a stanchion.  The puck wound up with Lazar in the high slot where he dangled his way down Main St. and went backhand shelf to tie the game. Jake DeBrusk with the net drive to help take away Vasilevskiy’s eyes shouldn’t be overlooked on this play. Keep raising that trade value JD, keep raising it.

Originally tweeted by Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) on December 5, 2021.

The intensity ramped up throughout the final period as the teams traded chances and it was starting to look a bit like pickup, except with sober goalies. The Bruins were hunting the puck and keeping tight gaps and you could almost feel that they were going to get the next one. Tampa dialed it in too and applied tremendous pressure for the final five but Swayman was sharp and unflappable. The final horn sounded with the teams headed for extra hockey.

In OT once again the teams traded chances, while across New England people were reaching for Tums (I’m assuming most of Tampa’s fan base was cooking meth with it being Sat night and all). The Bruins sent David Pastrnak in with Mikhail Sergachev chasing. Pasta was at the end of a shift and was running low on gas while Sergachev closed the gap and got his stick parallel to the ice on Pasta’s hands. Just enough to disrupt the shooting motion. I’m not going to get all crazy and say the ref missed one, but I am going to say that the thing we all want from the refs is consistency and if they were calling this game CONSISTENTLY the entire game, then that was a hook. Nick Foligno and Grzelcyk both went off for the same call earlier in the game.

So what happened after the non-call? Like you have to ask. Stamkos came down the ice on Reilly in a 2 on 1 and unloaded a clapper from the faceoff dot and beat Swayman short side high. Game over. At least the B’s salvaged a point. Watch the whole video clip and tell me that, based on the way the game was being officiated, how was that not a hook??

Originally tweeted by Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) on December 5, 2021.

Up next is the Canadian swing, which starts Wednesday night in Vancouver, assuming the city is not on fire.

Plus/Minus – fuck it, they outplayed Tampa. Tonight I’m doing it all in the plus column.

Plus:

  • Jeremy Swayman I believe, has claimed the #1 spot. He was stellar again tonight and had no chance on 2 of the 3 goals. I’m sure he’d like the shorty back, but the kid is the real deal.
  • Patrice Bergeron is the perfect hockey player. This legend went 22 for 26 at the dot tonight. I can’t do that in a video game.
  • With the lines clicking (especially Coyle’s) the B’s have the desirable issue of where to slot Taylor Hall when Brad Marchand comes back. Who rides with who is one of the best games to play regarding your hockey team when you have too many good players. Conversely it sucks ass when you don’t have enough. 
  • Jack Ahcan looked ready for prime time. The tentative player that had a 3 game cup of coffee last year? He has since been replaced by a solid defensive player who was wheeling around out there. Amazing what some game time in the AHL can do for you.
  • Erik Haula has shown CLEARLY that he doesn’t want to be health bombed again. His play has been noticeably more energetic and his skating game is back to what it was when he played for the Golden Knights. He has looked great with Coyle and Craig Smith, see point #3 above. See how a professional handles a health bomb? Nope, not gonna talk about him. Going to keep it all plus, positive vibes only.

As always let me know what you think and how spot on all my B’s thoughts are @abrow28

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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