Your Boston Bruins hosted the NJ Devils tonight at the TD Garden riding an undefeated streak to start off the New Year. Sixty minutes later, that undefeated streak has now reached 3 games (only the 2nd time they’ve won 3 in a row this season) as the Bruins handle the Devils by a 5-3 final. As I said on our most recent podcast (which you can find here) the Bruins are a wagon.
The Bruins lineup remained mostly unchanged. Up front Jake DeBrusk was out with COVID (I swear I didn’t mess with his test results) so rising star Oskar Steen slotted in on the Charlie Coyle line opposite Nick Foligno. Brad Marchand and Craig Smith bookended Patrice Bergeron with Erik Haula at the pivot between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. On the New Merlot Line Curtis Lazar was back in on the wing opposite Trent Frederic with Tomas Nosek in the middle. The defense remained static in front of Linus Ullmark in net. At the other end it was McKenzie Blackwood in net for NJ with some ugly numbers (but undefeated) in his last 3 outings. Woof: a 3.56GAA and .876% save percentage are the kind of numbers only a rage filled Devils fan like Boother @patboothnjd can appreciate.
Good Guy Lazar got the B’s on the board early when he drove down the RW wall and beat Blackwood 5-hole. This shuffleboard shot was one that I’m sure Blackwood would want back; but it doesn’t matter how, just how many. It looked as if the net drive by Brandon Carlo may have drawn Blackwood off the post and opened the 5-hole just enough, but who cares? The Bruins were off and running and took the lead into the room for the first intermission.
Nathan Bastian got the Devils back to even when he poked the puck past Pastrnak at the top of the NJ zone, and walked in alone from his own blue line on Ullmark. This wasn’t entirely on Pastrnak (although I’d like to see more than that DeBrusk-esque effort on the back check Pasta!), as Carlo telegraphed the pass enough that this beer-leaguer would’ve been able to intercept that muffin. Bastian is an interesting story: He was claimed by SEA in the expansion draft and then when The Kraken tried to slip him through waivers, he was claimed by the pride of Billerica, MA (and GM of the Devils) Tommy Fitzgerald.
Less than 25 seconds later, Steen got the first goal of his NHL career when he possibly, maybe, might have popped the puck off the top of the net and off Blackwood and in. The Hockey Gods clearly had money on the Bruins tonight based on how these goals were scored.
I mean see for your self:
Less than 2 minutes later the Bruins sloppy play in their own end bit them in the taters as Tomas Tatar (see what I did there?) tied it back up. A bouncing puck found the inexplicably uncovered Tatar in the slot and he shoveled a backhand past Ullmark. The Ice Bear Dude had trouble with his rebound control all night tonight, but someone in a black sweater has to be on Tatar in that play. I mean, you can’t leave a 25-goal scorer alone in the slot like that.
Luckily The Hockey Gods were still dialed in as Trent Frederic put the Bruins back up heading into the 2nd intermission. Freddie was chasing down a puck in the RW corner and from behind the end line, he threw a backhand at Blackwood who was hugging the post. Or was he? The puck had eyes as they like to say and that’s Frederic’s 2nd goal in as many games.
The New Merlot Line was clicking and dominated time of play to open the final frame. After extended zonetime in the NJ end, their hard work paid off as they drew the first power play of the night for the Black and Gold. The Bruins were unable to get anything going on the PP and had trouble maintaining the zone. Just as the power play expired (in the vulnerable minute as Homeboy Jack likes to say); Michael McLeod lofted a perfect touch pass to Damon Severson coming out of the box. With a forehand/backhand move he froze Ullmark to go over the glove and to make it 3 apiece.
Late in the period is when the big dogs need to be let off the leash and there isn’t a bigger dog that’s been held on a tighter leash than Pastrnak as of late. This dog needs to hunt, this dog needs to get a biscuit, and this metaphor clearly has gotten away from me entirely. Let’s reset: David Pastrnak had a monster shift late in the 3rd and capped it off with a Herculean effort to get the GWG. Corralling the puck on the LW wall he dog-walked 3 Devils before getting his own rebound and putting it up on the shelf. 4-3 Bruins and yes Pasta, we were entertained.
Carlo finished out the scoring when his rising wrister from the right point deflected off Dawson Mercer and past Blackwood. If the future of USA hockey is Jack Hughes, then you can’t be palms up in your own end ignoring the play and crying to the ref when a goal is scored. Nosek laid a stick check on Hughes’ 10-ply grip and he dropped the stick like it was lava and immediately looked to the ref for the call. No whistle came and Nosek cycled the puck back to the point where Carlo put it home. The Hockey Gods do not favor bitchy little punks. This is also why the Tampa Bay Lightning will not repeat this year. The Hockey Gods have had enough.
The Bruins host the MIN Wild on Thursday looking to keep perfect on the year as the Foligno brothers face off against each other.
Time for a Goalie Hug, Now Play the Music.
- Secondary Scoring? So far this year the Bruins have scored 14 goals in 5 on 5 play. Those goals were scored by 13 different players and Trent Frederic is leading the way with 2 (checks notes). Yes, Trent Frederic. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak have only a goal apiece and Brad Marchand hasn’t scored. I’d say Butchie should have asked me for my line combos weeks ago.
- Speaking of Pastrnak, tonight was his first goal since 11/30. The longest goal drought of his career: I haven’t checked this stat, but it feels right. Hopefully this gets him going.
- Derek Forbort had a game tonight. Solid defensively and making good outlets.
- Big surprise: I thought Linus Ullmark played well tonight. His rebound control was problematic, but he made big saves when needed. With less than 2 minutes to play and the NJ net empty he stopped McLeod at the top of the crease with an explosive move off his line. Big saves happen at big moments.
- Bruins were sloppy in their own end a bit. Got away with it tonight, but there are tougher games upcoming and they can’t play like that against better teams.
- Linus Ullmark got beat on 2 breakaways tonight, but I’m not bashing him. The issue is giving up breakaways. Have some game and situational awareness when you’re out there.
- Can you trade a guy when he’s in COVID Protocol? Asking for a friend.
- Tonight was the Bruins Military Appreciation Night and they wore military inspired sweaters in warm-ups. I’m not usually into this type of thing, but the ones they were wearing tonight? Crispy. These might be the best military inspired sweaters I’ve seen, but I could be biased.