Before reading this article, please consider donating to the Movember fund to help support men’s health! All of the gang at The Morning Skate has committed to raising funds this year and we need your help. Everyone knows someone who this can help. We are in the last few days of the fundraiser so please click here to donate. And remember every little bit helps
Your Boston Bruins hosted the Carolina Hurricanes at the TD Garden for the annual day after Thanksgiving matinee. The B’s rolled into this one with NHL history at stake; something that’s never been done in the 105 year history of the league…and these beauties made it happen. Almost exactly 105 years to the day of the first NHL game (November 26, 1917), the Boston Bruins have set the record for consecutive wins at home to open a season at 12 straight. What made Friday’s game even that much sweeter is that the Bruins never led this game until they won it in OT and they secured the W after losing their starting goaltender in the process (don’t worry, he’s okay).
With less than 7 minutes played in the opening frame, CAR got on the board during a PP when the B’s couldn’t clear their zone. After a great keep-in at the line by Brent Burns, CAR worked the puck down the wall and put the puck on net through a re-direct in the slot. Linus Ullmark attempted to steer the puck to the wall but Stefan Noesen corralled the puck in the slot where he was inexplicably uncovered and tucked it past Ullmark’s outstretched left leg. 1-0 bad guys.
The ‘Canes doubled it up on yet another PP late in the period. Clearly the officiating crew was torqued to be working the day after Thanksgiving and decided to put their fingerprints all over this game. I’m not saying it wasn’t even-handed (both teams had 6 man-advantages) but someone tell Stripes that no one is paying to see/hear them all afternoon. Seth Jarvis pounded one off the end boards that Ullmark played to rebound out the other side to his left and slid that way in his crease. Unfortunately the puck died in Gretzky’s office and Jesperi Kotkaniemi was there to tuck it in the near side. To his credit, Ullmark almost got back, but not in time.
CAR had the heavy fore-check going in the first and were limiting the Bruins rushes through the neutral zone forcing the B’s to dump and chase. On the other end, CAR was focusing on quick uptempo outlets and pushing the pace through center ice. It was a reminder (not a good one) on how good this team is, although I think (basically) trading Tony DeAngelo and Vincent Trochek for Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty is not going to be favorable for the ‘Canes as they move forward. As good as Burns is/was he’s not the game-changer that DeAngelo can be.
The physicality started to ramp up through the 2nd period, as did the Bruins chances. Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak and Charlie Coyle especially were more than willing to mix it up with whichever ‘Cane was within reach. The Bruins were countering the CAR fore-check with short, quick passing out of their end and reverses behind the BOS net when CAR shut down the walls. This started to open up the neutral zone as the CAR defenders had to drop back to keep their gaps tight. The ice was tilting towards the Bruins as the period progressed.
With 30 seconds to play in the middle stanza, Pasta found David Krejci in front of the CAR net and the B’s were on the board. After a great fore-check of their own by the Czechmates (and some really solid wall work), Pasta laid a cross-seam pass to Krejci at the far post. Krejci gathered the puck in and went back against the grain, far side over the glove and under the bar. Watch the replay below and notice how Pasta gets the puck across to Krejci with a CAR defender draped all over him and how Krejci finds the soft spot in the slot with a few quick strides backwards to create separation and give himself space to shoot. Just a great hockey play all around.
With about 7 mins played in the third, the Bruins had a scary moment as Ullmark went down in some pain in his own crease. During a goalmouth scramble, Ullmark made 3-4 in tight saves that looked like sure goals for CAR. In trying to prevent one of those bids at a wide open net, Connor Clifton dove across the net mouth and looked to come down on Ullmark’s outstretched right arm. Ullmark had to leave the game (favoring his right arm) as Jeremy Swayman came in for relief. I will say that Ullmark and Craig Smith (who also left the game with an upper body injury) are listed as day-to-day as is Trent Frederic. HC Jim Montgomery said that there was “no bad news” on any of the injury fronts and that Derek Forbort is “getting close”. I’d call that a positive result.
Just after another BOS PP expired, Krejci got his 2nd of the day as his wrister from the right point beat Pyotr Kochetkov through a great Nick Foligno screen. While the Bruins on the ice celebrated, the zebras waived off the goal even over the vehement protests of Foligno. After a challenge and then a lengthy review (almost 4mins by Homeboy Jack’s watch), the call on the ice was reversed and we have a good goal. I mean, it’s pretty clear by the review that Foligno didn’t go in the blue paint on his own accord and then didn’t interfere with Kochetkov once he was there. Here’s the goal along with a view of the “interference”.
The game would head to overtime with the Bruins on the rare 4 on 3 power play for a minute. The B’s rolled out Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Pastrnak and Krejci. You don’t think they didn’t want that 12th win in a row at home? The teams traded chances in the extra frame until CAR got whistled for too many on the ice and during the ensuing PP, Pasta beat Kochetkov with a dot over his shoulder. Marchand gathered the puck on the RW and carried into the high slot where he found Pasta at the top of the dot on the left wing.
Play the music, the boys made history.
A few thoughts on the game and team:
- When did Rod Brind’amour become such a whiny twat? Was he like that as a player and I forgot? This team is really unlike-able mostly because of they way they bitch and whine and then when they start all the behind the play stick work.. they really are just following the example their HC sets I guess.
- Nice to see that Ullmark and Smith (as well as Frederic and Forbort) are all day to day or close to coming back. Also good to see Foligno fill in as an honorary Huggy Bear in place of Ullmark after the W. When asked about Ullmark after the game, Swayman said he was fine and that he was a “big Swedish Viking so he can’t get hurt”.
- McAvoy was out there hunting hits in this game. When you talk about the elite level defenders in the NHL (those in the Norris conversation), I don’t think a single one of them is on McAvoy’s level for physicality.
- With Krejci’s 2G today he’s now 6-2-8 over his last 5GP. Think he’s happy playing with his countrymen Pasta and Pavel Zacha? They all have great hands and with Zacha’s speed stretching the defense for the other two, it’s just been great to watch.
- Swayman was solid in relief, shutting down some great chances by CAR. Ullmark was on point as well until he had to leave the game, sharp on his angles and looked very fluid and decisive in challenging shooters.
- The crowd gave Bergeron a nice ovation during a TV time-out to acknowledge his 1000th career point. The team is planning a pre-game ceremony on Dec 17th (before the CBJ game) to honor The Captain.
- Lastly, I want to take a minute in the spirit of Thanksgiving and thank you all for reading and traveling along with me on this journey. Sure, most of the people who comment are donkeys and wouldn’t know a puck from a duck, but we’re all fans (I think) of the Black and Gold and just want to see them succeed. And apologies for this post being a few days behind, I was up in Maine with the fam and didn’t have a chance to watch until today.
You can read more about Brownie in his bio down below or follow him on Twitter @Abrow28