Your Boston Bruins hosted the 2x defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden tonight. In a game the Bruins dominated, it certainly was closer than it should have been; but the good guys prevailed and send the Bolts home with a 3-2 W in front of the Black and Gold Faithful. The vibe was palpable through the screen as this has turned into quite the rivalry over the last number of years. Playoff hockey atmosphere in March? Yes please. I’ll take a 7 game series between these 2 teams every year.
The lines remained static as last game except for the shiny new piece on the backend. Trade deadline acquisition Hampus Lindholm made his Boston Bruins debut sporting #27 and skated with Charlie McAvoy (get used to that pairing for the next 6-9 years), as the top pair. Mike Reilly got the night off and it will be interesting to see how Bruce Cassidy handles his 3rd pair rotation moving forward. Jeremy Swayman got the nod in net vs.
Godzilla Andrei Vasilevskiy for TB.
The Bruins carried play in the first, with zonetime definitely bolstered by a 4 min double minor just 1:20 into the game. Alas, as was the case vs. Montreal on Monday, the Bruins couldn’t get it going on the early power play as they once again looked out of sorts and forcing the play. Amazing what happens without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup. Not only has Brad Marchand’s play been affected, but one of the better power plays in the league looks choppy and individualistic. Guess that’s what happens when the best bumper in the league is sidelined? The Bruins outshot TB 12-8 in the first and controlled the pace and tempo throughout the opening 20 minutes.
In the middle period it was the curse of the shorthanded goal once again. A tough sequence for Marchand for sure, as he gave away the puck at the offensive blue line and then lost his man whilst puck watching on the back check. Brandon Hagel got separation from Marchand and was left all alone in front with a wide-open net to bury the first goal of the game. Swayman had no chance as he was on the opposite post to challenge the puck carrier. The play should have never happened, and Hagel should never have been that open. A truly ugly sequence for the Bruins.
Less than 3 minutes later, David Pastrnak got the Bruins on the board when he walked in alone on Vasilevskiy and went forehand-backhand-blocker high to tie the game. This goal originated roughly 200 feet away as Lindholm (Hampy? Lindy? Hammer? Get off my back, it’s a work in progress) initiated the sequence. As you can see in the replay, Lindholm generates speed coming behind the net and then shrugs off his fore-checker before laying a short pass on Erik Haula’s tape in stride. Haula banks the puck off the far boards and puts it in front of Pastrnak where he can skate into the puck at full speed and attack the net. Just a great play all around and man, what a patient finish.
In the third, old friend Steven Stamkos put the Lightning ahead again as he cleaned up the loose change in the slot with about 4 minutes played. The Bruins were sloppy in their own end and failed on subsequent attempts to clear the puck, which cost them. Stamkos was circling the zone like a shark and jumped on a loose puck in the high slot and punched it by Swayman; again no chance on that one for Sway. You gotta get the puck out in that situation.
Once Tampa got the lead, you could see a more dedicated effort from the Bruins all over the ice. Fore-check, puck battles, closing gaps and great board work all translated into TB being back on their heels for long portions of the 3rd period. Connor Clifton rimmed the puck down the wall to Haula behind the net who then laid out a perfect backhand for Pasta skating down into the slot from the RW. Pastrnak gathered the puck and spun to his backhand putting the puck on net and it just squeaked under Vasilevskiy’s arm to tie the game. Let’s go boys!
After a lengthy possession in the TB zone, Pastrnak completed the hatty to give the Bruins their first lead of the game. This whole sequence was great hockey as the Bruins were at their most tenacious with puck control and pursuit. After his stick exploded on a one-timer attempt, Pasta headed to the Bruins bench for new lumber. With only 4 men in the offensive zone first Lindholm and then Haula made great plays to keep the puck alive. First Lindholm kept the puck in and worked it down the wall and then when it looked as if TB was going to get the clear, Haula gathered the puck on the back check and remained onside before working the puck down to Taylor Hall for the jam attempt at the top of the paint. The puck bounced directly to Pastrnak for the put in and the hat trick was complete. Let the chapeau’s rain from the rafters!
The Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy but it was all for naught, as both Charlie Coyle and Tomas Nosek won key defensive zone face-offs to seal the win. This puts the Bruins in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division with 85 points (the Leafs also have 85 points but have a game in hand). Up next the Bruins welcome the NY Islanders in for a matinee on Saturday. Goalie Hug! Play the music!
- The Bruins lines are clicking (3 of the 4 anyways). The Coyle line, the Haula line and the 4th line played great tonight and Bergy is back skating so hopefully he’s back on Saturday.
- Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula and Good Guy Curtis Lazar had excellent games up front. They all played 200 feet and contributed on and off the score sheet.
- The new guy looks pretty good. Hampus Lindholm played over 23 minutes (second only to McAvoy) with almost 2mins shorthanded and over 4mins on the power play. He registered 1A with 4 shots on net, with 1 block and 2 takeaways to go with 4 hits and a+2. Small sample size for sure, but man did he look slick back there.
- I know they just won, but what the hell is Jake DeBrusk doing out there? He doesn’t battle for the whole 60 and still gets PP time? Drives me crazy.
- Sloppy with the puck will not win you playoff games.
- Brad Marchand misses Patrice Bergeron. That’s it. We all miss him Marchy, let’s put on a brave face and soldier on. Have some cereal.
- With Lindholm wearing 27, whom do you think of on the Bruins when you see that number? For me it’s a group consisting of Bob Joyce, Dave Christian, Glen Murray and Stevie Leach. I’d give the nod to Leach as the local guy.
- Connor Clifton has 3pts in 2GP following the Bruins signing Lindholm and Josh Brown (who has yet to make his debut).
- Tonight was Erik Haula’s first career 3A game. If Haula can regain what he had going in Vegas before he was injured, look out.
- Homeboy Jack is the best. I don’t know how anyone cannot enjoy him calling games. As the game wound down he let loose this gem that he definitely had in the chamber: “the Bruins’ march up the mountain continues as they pass Tampa in the standings”. Awesome. Don’t ever change Jack, and please come on the podcast.
- David Pastrnak had the 12th hat trick of his career. This puts him tied for 3rd all time with Johnny Bucyck. He’s now 2 hatties behind Cam Neely and a staggering 14 behind Phil Esposito. After his 3rd goal Pasta also made sure to give some love to assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer who was quick to get him a new stick on the GWG, I mean when you show up to the game like this, you have to back it up on the ice, right?