Your Boston Bruins hosted the New York Rangers for a late afternoon tilt today here in the Hub of Hockey. This match meant more than 2 points in the standings as the Bruins welcomed back some injured players and the Rangers wanted to keep their current hot streak going. At the end of 60, this (possible) preview of a first round matchup went to the B’s by a final score of 3-1 much to the delight of the Black and Gold Faithful on hand.
David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark all got back on the ice today and put their collective stamp on the tilt. Up front Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk remained on Patrice Bergeron’s wings while Pasta slid back in with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. On the 3rd line, Craig Smith and Trent Frederic bookended Charlie Coyle while Nick Foligno and Curtis Lazar rode shotgun with Tomas Nosek at the pivot. On the back end it was Lindholm back with Charlie McAvoy as the top pair and Matt Grzelcyk with Brandon Carlo. On the 3rd pair, Connor Clifton was matched with Derek Forbort who certainly earned his minutes with a 4 block PK vs. PGH the other night. In net it was Ullmark vs. prohibitive Vezina favorite Igor Shesterkin.
From the opening draw there was over 6 minutes of uninterrupted play before the game’s first whistle. The pace was furious throughout the entire first period with neither team being able to set up effectively in the offensive zone. There was a lot of transition play and solid wall work by both squads, every loose puck was contested and no one was giving up an inch. This game had the feel of playoff game and looked like it was going to remain scoreless for the opening twenty.
The Bruins have been victim to giving up late-period goals all year; today they tried it the other way. With just 34 seconds left Pastrnak one-timed a McAvoy feed to put the Bruins up heading into the first intermission. This play was started in the B’s end by Lindholm (who won’t make the score sheet), when he picked Artemi Panarin’s pocket in the Bruins end and hit Marchand with an outlet pass as he skated out of the zone (I mean there’s a reason that HC Bruce Cassidy refers to Lindholm as a “one-man outlet”). Marchy carried through the neutral zone and then slowed up after he gained the NYR line and fed McAvoy who had jumped up into the play. McAvoy drove down the slot on the right side, drawing both defensemen? I mean you guys saw Pastrnak over there right? Chuckie Bright Lights laid the pass cross-ice to Pasta and bingo-bango the good guys are up by a goal.
In the opening minutes of the middle stanza Hall doubled the Bruins lead when he beat Shesterkin over the glove. The Rangers had the Bruins hemmed in their own zone but when Pastrnak blocked an Adam Fox shot (not a typo, you read that correctly) the puck bounced directly to Haula who hit Hall as he flew the zone. For some reason all the Rangers on the ice remained flat-footed as Hall took off and once he had that step he was gone baby gone. Watch on the replay as he keeps the puck ahead of him and away from Ryan Lindgren (wish the Bruins hadn’t brought on Rick Nash when you see this kid play? Me too) on the back check, the wide stance to protect the puck and the quick snap over the glove: 2-0 Bruins.
In the 3rd it looked like the Bruins were going to be their own worst enemy (again). Ullmark came out behind his net to push the puck around the glass on the backhand but instead launched it over the glass to put the Rangers on the PP early in the third. While killing off the original penalty, Carlo took a hooking penalty against Alexis Lafreniere (more on Carlo later) and during the delay; Mika Zibanejad got the Rangers on the board when he beat Ullmark from the left post. All of a sudden were the Rags climbing back into this one?
Nah. Freddie called game about halfway through the period when he fluttered one over a sprawling Shesterkin to put the B’s back up by a pair. Cliffy Hockey with a great heads up play when he saw Smitty streaking down the RW and put the puck off the end boards for Smith to skate into (Cliffy won’t get on the score sheet for this great play as the puck ticked off Coyle’s stick en route to the end boards). Smith tattooed the puck on net where Shesterkin made the save, but the puck bounced off his blocker right to Freddie driving the net. Do I have to say it? Do I really? How about we all say it together: If you go to the net good things happen. Freddie put it home and it was all over.
Bonus clip because I thought it was great that Freddie knew exactly where the camera was.
The Bruins have a sprint to the end of the season with 4 games in the next 6 days. First up is a trip to MTL for a game tomorrow night followed by 2 games at home vs. FLA and then BUF, before their last game next Friday at TOR. A week from tomorrow it’s the playoffs.
Play the music – Goalie Hug
Plus/Minus – today is dedicated entirely to Brandon Carlo and what it’s like for a defenseman in the NHL playing against the top players. For all of you keyboard Hall of Famers who like to toss around words like “soft” and “useless” when describing his play, keep reading and maybe learn something.
- Great play by Carlo: In the first period Carlo found himself too far up the right wall in his own zone vs. Panarin and rightfully dropped down in coverage when the forward came over. Carlo then squared up and immediately blocked and then corralled Panarin’s outside shot and sent the Bruins going back the other way.
- Bad play by Carlo: While killing the penalty late, Carlo got tangled up with Lafreniere on the backcheck and got called for hooking. As he slid into the Bruins net he lost his stick and elected to go to the end boards leaving Zibinajed all alone in the slot for the Rangers only goal of the day.
Those are 2 moments taking maybe 20 seconds of his total 19:29TOI (which led all D except Lindholm). He consistently faces the top players on the opposing team, is out there for all PK and late when the game needs locking down. Carlo is only 25 years old and still growing into his game. He’s had some bad luck with concussions and that’s not an easy thing to overcome. So while you’re sitting there on your coach with Cheetos dust all over the front of your shirt, maybe stick to talking about things you know?
- David Pastrnak become the 3rd fastest in Bruins history to 500pts (508GP). Bobby Orr did it in 396GP and Ray Bourque in 484GP. Pretty good company for Pasta eh?
- Brad Marchand’s goal drought continued today and is now at 10 games. To add insult to injury he rang one off the post when the Rangers pulled Igor Shesterkin. The plus side? Once he gets one, they’ll probably come in bunches.
- Patrice Bergeron is sitting tied with Ray Bourque for 4th all time in goals for the Bruins at 395. He is also 3rd all time in games played, 4th all time in assists and 4th in points. With a game tomorrow night in his hometown of Montreal, wouldn’t it be great to see Bergy pass Bourque with a game winner on Carey Price?
- Linus Ullmark looked like a #1 goalie to me today. He was on his angles all game, and his glove was electric. Take away that backhand toss and he played perfectly. What say you?