Well hello night owls. Wasn’t that worth staying up for? For those of you that didn’t stay awake for the finish, pull up a chair and I’ll break it down for you. Your Boston Bruins traveled to Alberta tonight to take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. It seemed as if the Bruins were catching EDM at just the right time as the Oil have had a tough go of it as of late. Edmonton has dropped 3 in a row with the last 2 coming at home (make that 4 and 3 hee-hee). The Oilers must have been looking at this as a get right game. The B’s dropped a game in a shootout last night, and had to travel to Alberta all while the Oilers were sitting home ready and waiting. On paper it was a scheduled loss, but nobody told the boys in Black and Gold.
Linus Ullmark got the nod in net for the B’s with Stuart Skinner manning the pipes for EDM. Up front the top 2 lines remained the same as last night’s game, but the bottom six got shuffled. It was Erik Haula centering Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk on the 3rd line, with Trent Frederic between Karson Kuhlman and Anton Blidh on the fourth. It was good to see Blidh back out there as his last game was the one in which he was injured on 11/28 vs. Vancouver. On the back end, John Moore drew back in the lineup and was paired with Matt Grzelcyk. Brandon Carlo was out with a lower body injury, but his status is day to day. This was Moore’s 2nd NHL game of the season, but he has been playing in Providence with the Baby B’s with nary a complaint.
The first period was fairly even, although EDM had the edge in zonetime. The Bruins were making mental mistakes and weren’t executing as crisply as a team that played the night before. The decision making process was glaring and you know I have examples. I mean what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t do my homework? Patrice Bergeron threw one into the EDM zone on his backhand well short of the red line for an icing. On a power play, David Pastrnak let the puck drift out of the zone uncontested on the right wing and the Bruins had to go back and regroup wasting PP time. Late in the period Derek Forbort looked to hit Brad Marchand with an outlet and sailed it roughly 15 feet wide of Marchand for another icing. These kind of mental mistakes are what can kill you against a team as talented as the Oilers.
Thankfully it was the Bruins who drew first blood. Old friend Zach Hyman boarded Nick Foligno, I mean you can imagine my surprise when this dirty prick plays like the dirty prick that he is, and of course, no call. Foligno got up and expressed his displeasure with the non-call and of course Hyman’s gloves stayed glued to his hands and Foligno gets the rough. Listen, I like Foligno, but if he continues to go to the box alone he’s got to re-evaluate the way he’s playing. On the ensuing EDM power play, Bergy confronted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the top of the Bruins zone and then sauced it by Tyson Barrie to send Marchand away. Marchy gathered the puck and attacked the EDM zone skating straight down the slot with the puck on his forehand, Marchy opened the blade juuuuuuust enough to freeze Skinner and then went backhand shelf to pot the shorty.
AND THE HOCKEY GODS ARE NOW PLEASED.
In the 2nd period the Bruins were losing the zonetime battle yet again, but the refs at least evened up the soft calls when Leon Draisaitl was whistled for leaning on Marchand. As time was running out on the BOS PP, Hall found DeBrusk with a sweet backhand sauce as he was working the LW wall and DeBrusk went short side to put the B’s up by a pair. DeBrusk caught the puck on his backhand at the bottom of the LW circle and went over the blocker. Give me this DeBrusk all day, at the very least it’s increasing his trade value.
The Bruins had better decision-making and were winning more puck battles as the period progressed. A pair of matching penalties gave the Oilers some jump as they came out of the 4 on 4 play and then went into a power play shortly thereafter. On the man advantage late in the period, Draisaitl got an off-speed one timer by Ullmark from the bottom of the RW circle to put the Oilers on the board. I mean you can’t keep giving opportunities to the #1 power play unit in the NHL. What do you think will happen eventually?
Midway through the period Draisaitl did it again almost from the same spot on what? You guessed it, a power play. This one was not off speed, this one was very definitely WITH speed. I believe Ullmark is still looking for that puck.
With less than 3 minutes in regulation the Bruins got some jump and had a long sequence in the Oilers end. John Moore put a shot on net and Craig Smith (of course) worked the puck out of the pile and skated vertically around the LW circle finding Gryzelck at the far right point. Grz settled the puck and took 2 strides to the top of the RW circle and let a clapper go that beat Skinner far side over the blocker. Charlie Coyle with the net front presence and Smitty with the net drive after he dished it to Grz. Nothing better than seeing that puke Hyman (13 second mark of the video) looking at Grzelcyk celebrating since we all know he was the one who left Grz all alone at the point. You’ll never get the stink of Toronto off you Hyman.
Edmonton pulled their goalie with 2 minutes left and it was an edge of seat watching experience (at least for the regular season). Ullmark may flop around out there a bit, but he recorded a season high number of saves tonight and absolutely stole this one for the Bruins. Hey man, when you’re The Ice Bear Dude, you do what you want.
Up next for the Bruins is a chance to avenge their ugly loss to the other team in Alberta, the Calgary Flames. Puck drop at 10pm EST on Saturday. Now play the music.
- I don’t mean to continually pump his tires, but Erik Haula is playing the best hockey since he was in Vegas. I would still rather see him with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith, but until the B’s can figure out what to do with Taylor Hall it is what it is.
- Jeremy Swayman stole a point last night and Linus Ullmark stole 2 tonight. Competition makes everyone better.
- Good to see Matt Grzelcyk get his first goal of the year. Kid works his bag off and is one of the best skaters on the roster.
- Some sloppy plays that I highlighted above are easy enough to clean up.
- I know it’s the Oilers and they have 2 of the top 7? players in the league, but the Bruins had a tough time getting the puck out of their zone tonight.
- Too many shots not getting through still. It’s been better this trip, but still needs to improve.
- Brad Marchand now has 32 SHG for his career. That puts him in the top 10 all time for the NHL (he’s tied with 6 other players). The list reads like a Hall of Fame roll call. You can check it out here. Pretty cool.
- Patrice Bergeron is now tied for 4th in assists all time for the Boston Bruins with Phil Esposito (553). He caught Espo with his dish to Marchand on the shorty. The players ahead of him you ask? Bobby Orr with 624, John Bucyk with 704 and the leader: Ray Bourque with an astounding 1111.
- Connor Clifton clearly doesn’t worship at the altar of Connor McJesus. Every chance he could, Clifton would take the body on McDavid and I was here for it. McDavid ended up with only 2A and was a -2: versus his normal stat line? That’s a win for the Bruins and Clifton.
- Speaking of McDavid: I spent a good portion of the night watching him skate every time he had the puck. It’s incredible, his feet barely leave the ice. His edge work is filthy, he’s a super human that was designed to play hockey.