Your Boston Bruins welcomed in the Seattle Kraken to the TD Garden for the first time since the inception of the NHL’s shiniest new toy. Returning after a road trip to forget, the B’s were looking to bank 2 points before heading off for the All-Star break. While they eventually were able to stash the 3-2 W, it took the B’s all of an uneven 60 minutes to get ‘er done.
The Bruins stayed mostly static up front, but with Erik Haula currently in the NHL Covid protocol; Tomas Nosek got the nod on the 2nd line between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. Craig Smith and Brad Marchand flanked Patrice Bergeron on the top line, while on the 3rd it was Charlie Coyle at the pivot with Jake DeBrusk and Oskar Steen as his wingers. The 4th line was Curtis Lazar and Anton Blidh bookending recently promoted Steven Forgarty. On the back end, the BU Boys: Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy were the top pair, with Mike Reilly back with Brandon Carlo. Derek Forbort skated with Urho Vaakanainen who has recently staked his claim in the Bruins defensive corp. Linus Ullmark was in net facing off against Chris Driedger for the Kraken.
The opening period saw decent chances at both ends, but both goalies looked dialed in as they were challenging shooters and strong on their angles. The best chance for either team was old friend Marcus Johansson walking in on Ullmark with the puck on his forehand. The Ice Bear Dude stayed strong on his angle and made the save off his blocker to keep the teams knotted at zeroes. Overall this was the Bruins best period in terms of pace and puck possession. It only got choppier and sloppier as the game progressed.
In the middle frame it was a fairly clean game, until it wasn’t. Yanni Gourde with an absolutely idiotic check on Vaakanainen: I mean see for yourself. Vaaky didn’t suddenly turn right before contact, he looked and saw Gourde and continued the play. Gourde could clearly see Vaakanainen’s numbers and instead of the bear hug (which even this beer-leauger knows is the right play); he decided to plaster him to the end wall. Gourde’s not a dirty player, but that was a dangerous play. Stripes got together and initially called it a major and somehow downgraded it to a minor. No homerism here, but c’mon that’s a major. In the least surprising news of the night, the Bruins announced that Vaakanainen would not return to the game with an upper body injury.
After the PP (where the B’s didn’t cash in), on the very next face-off was what every hockey “fan” on Bruins’ Facebook pages has been asking for: some jam from the Black and Gold in sticking up for each other. Fogarty took the draw vs. Gourde and tried to feed him his Sherwood until Good Guy Curtis Lazar came in like a wrecking ball and traded some shots with Gourde as they went down to the ice. Lazar fed him a nice uppercut as they were getting back up too (I see you Lazer). Forbort also squared off with another old friend in Jeremy Lauzon for a glorified wrestling match. In my opinion the better payback is scoring on the PP, but this will endear you to the Black and Gold Faithful for sure.
Just before midway of the 2nd, Pasta got one for the good guys on another power play. Marchand curled at the top of the RW circle coming off the elbow and fed Hall below the goal line in the corner. Hall skated to the net, drawing the D-man to him and then fed Pasta cross-seam for a one timer over the blocker short side. The Bruins were off and running.
The Bruins successfully killed off a 5 on 3 power play (Thanks DeBrusk, more on that later), and had some puck luck down low behind the SEA net and Hall cashed in for his 10th of the year. Nosek had some strong wall work and got the puck to Hall behind the net where he tried to walk it out front. The puck slid off his stick but then the SEA defense fumbled it right back to him and Taylor Hall is not to be trifled with in front of the net! The Bruins were up by 2 heading into the room and The Hockey Gods were pleased yet again.
But then the Bruins came out flat for the 3rd and let the Kraken back into this game. Sloppy play in their own end combined with the inability to clear the puck, led to Joonas Donskoi with a gift in the high slot which he put over Ullmark’s glove to put SEA on the board. I mean Ullmark had no chance he never saw it. Talk about a screen: All five of the Bruins players on the ice were in the slot. I mean I’m just a humble blogger/podcaster/beer league guy and I know that’s not how you play defense.
Later in the period while the Kraken were on the power play again when Marchand got whistled off for…. Being Brad Marchand? I mean, at this point it’s laughable. One of the most exciting players in the NHL is not going to the All-Star game, gets no call when he gets planted face first into the boards with a head shot (forever an all scumbag team WAS) and now he makes a clean hockey play in a … you know… HOCKEY GAME and gets the gate?? That’s a 10-ply call. The Bruins killed off the penalty but in the scramble after getting even strength again a shot from the wing bounced around in the slot and eventually went in off McAvoy’s leg. Again, Ullmark had no chance and this was caused by sloppy defensive play by the B’s.
Good call by Butchie here with the timeout to remind the boys who they are and who they’re playing. After the mental reset, the B’s had some jump and were finally winning puck battles along the boards. With Mark Giordano in the box for an admittedly soft tripping call on Steen (I mean not as bad as the call on Marchand, but I applaud the refs for trying to even things up with their ineptitude), Pasta did it again. After a great keep in by Chuckie Bright Lights at the point, he worked the puck down to Marchand above the circle on the right wing. Marchand with his head up found Bergeron cross ice at the point where he one-touched it to Pastrnak for a one-timer. On the replay it’s possible that Pasta was looking for Hall coming from behind the net, but once it broke off Driedger’s glove and in, no one cared. As they say: it’s not how, it’s how many. For those scoring at home that’s a PP-GWG for #88.
The Bruins are off now until next Tuesday when they host the Penguins. Enjoy your All-Star break and we’ll see you for the 2nd half starting next week. As always, you can hear Ked and myself with our expert analysis on the podcast, which you can find here.
Goalie Hug. Play the Music.
- I liked the response tonight. Not just on the Gourde hit, but they kept battling back. You have to win these games that you’re supposed to win against an inferior opponent.
- Linus Ullmark played solid again tonight with a couple of highlight reel saves. Good to see the big guy bounce back.
- Tomas Nosek can play on any line. As much as Hal hates him, he’s been a Swiss Army Knife for the squad this year, maybe a Czech Army Knife?
- Jake fucking DeBrusk. The most effort I’ve seen out of this kid this season was when he pitchforked the puck over the glass while killing a penalty putting the Bruins down 2 on the penalty kill. I mean, have some awareness. He actually had some body checks tonight, but that play was horrible. Again, everyone says what a great kid he is and I wish him nothing but the best, but the B’s need to honor his request to be traded.
– Ryan Donato was a Bruin for parts of 2 seasons. His dad as you probably know is Ted Donato and had a great NHL career playing almost 800 games including parts of 9 seasons with the B’s. It’s got to be tough to be a local kid playing for the hometown team, especially when your dad was successful playing for that same team. In his tenure with the Bruins organization, Ryan Donato became close with Colby Cave who tragically passed away at the age of 25 from a brain bleed. Cave’s widow Emily gave Donato one of Colby’s game ties to bring him “luck and safety” this season. Emily attended the CHI/SEA game that Donato wore that tie too and wouldn’t you know, Donato had the game tying goal in the 3rd period and then the 1st goal in the shootout to lead SEA to the win and earn himself the first star of the night. This is one of those “only happens in sports” moments we talk about all the time. Great story and our condolences to all the family and friends of Colby Cave. You can read about it more here.