JD With the Last Laugh

Your Boston Bruins stumbled into Vegas to finish up their 3-game road trip fresh off a loss in ARZ. Bleary eyed from studying the NHL rulebook (especially re: icing), the B’s looked to get right vs. Butchie and company at the T-Mobile Arena. At the end of 60 the Bruins prevailed 3-1 with Jake DeBrusk getting the GWG against his former favorite coach.

This game looked like a beer league game played by some of the best hockey players on the planet. Choppy in the neutral zone and clogged up in both ends; each team gave up multiple odd-man rushes and breakaways and both squads were looking for the homerun pass all night.

The Golden Knights got on the board first when Mark Stone put them ahead on the power play. AJ Greer got whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty when he inadvertently grabbed the visor of a Vegas player in a scrum, that same player then grabbed Greer’s visor with no foul, but I digress. On the ensuing man-advantage, Chandler Stephenson drove down the LW before dishing to Stone at the left post. Stone gathered the puck in and dragged it backhand across the net while shielding the puck from the Bruins defense before putting it past Linus Ullmark on his forehand for the early lead. Sick play from a skilled player.

With 4 minutes gone in the middle stanza, Patrice Bergeron knotted the score when he was inexplicably left alone in the slot. After a face-off win by Bergeron (of course) in the VGK zone, the puck worked back up to Connor Clifton in the middle of the blue line. Cliffy found David Pastrnak down in the RW corner and put it right on his tape. Pasta had his head up looking for Bergy the whole way and put it right in The Captain’s office aka The Slot. Bergy with the catch and release move as Brick calls it, and we got a tie score. If we call the area behind the net, Gretzky’s Office, can we call the slot “Bergy’s Bunker”? I don’t know if that’s the best nickname for it, but I’ll work on it and get back to you. I mean how do you not cover Bergeron in that area? You would think Cassidy would have remembered that nugget of information.

In the third, the Bruins got the game-winner from a makeshift line of Taylor Hall, Pavel Zacha and DeBrusk. Monty was getting jiggy with his lineup all night as Pasta bounced between lines 1 and 2 with Zacha at the pivot for David Krejci (who was out of the lineup for a “maintenance day” per HC Jim Montgomery). The third line started with Charlie Coyle between Trent Frederic and Greer, but Craig Smith saw some time with the Coyle line as the game progressed. Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek manned the 4th line and had a rotating winger on the other side. I’ve professional coaches tell me that you build the line with 2 players and then can swap out the third, and it sounds like Montgomery and his staff have bought into that line of thinking too.

On the go ahead goal, Hall worked the puck into the Vegas zone and bunted the puck up to Zacha ahead of him in the LW lane. Zacha drove to the dot (as DeBrusk busted to the opposite post) and laid some sweet sauce over to DeBrusk who had opened up to get the puck on his forehand. DeBrusk put the puck up top on Logan Thompson, who had a strong right to left move but couldn’t quite get his blocker on the bid. Sometimes being a righty goalie has it’s disadvantages too. This must have felt extra special to DeBrusk as I’m sure he wanted one tonight vs. his old coach. Great pass by Zacha too as he had the patience to wait out the slide by Alec Martinez and put it right over him to DeBrusk

The Bruins got on the scoreboard again when Coyle cashed in with just about 9 minutes played. After a monster possession shift which saw Coyle, Foligno and Freddy all maintain possession deep in the Vegas zone, Coyle put one home from the LW circle off a feed from Derek Forbort up top. This was big boy’s work down low: digging the puck out of the corners, keeping possession along the wall, and taking the abuse from the whack-a-mole Vegas defenders. Good to see that hard work pay off as Coyle cashed in over the blocker.

As sloppy as this game was at times, the physicality stood out and ramped up as the game went on. Two players stood out to me: Clifton and DeBrusk. Yes, I said DeBrusk. Look, I’ve long been on DeBrusk about his style of play. There was a lot of floating and he seemed checked out at times in previous seasons. If you’ve ever listened to our podcast, I’ve made my feelings well known. Clearly, the relationship he had with Bruce Cassidy was affecting his play and he’s playing some great hockey now. He was engaged all night and was initiating contact all over the ice. I’ve said it many times, give me THIS DeBrusk and I’m all in with JD74. And Cliffy Hockey is alive and well as he led the team tonight with 7 hits and played solid defense all 60. Lastly I want to give a little love to the big man, The Ice Bear Dude himself, Ullmark. What a revelation. He came out of tonight’s game with a 1.82GAA and a .941% save percentage. Those are Vezina caliber numbers. He’s so calm and smooth and on top of his angles, maybe Donny knew what he was getting after all?

The Bruins head home to host the NY Islanders on Tuesday at the TD Garden. Good road trip, we’ll just blame the ARZ game on the officials and move on. Also great to hear another road venue with the Bruins chants audible over the NESN feed.

Huggy Bears out in the wild of Sin City…. you gotta love it.

You can read more about Brownie in his bio down below or follow him on Twitter @Abrow28

Author: Brownie

A legacy that was born on the frozen rivers in Northern Saskatchewan then later forged on the ponds of New England. Playing with the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet; always living by the credo handed down by generations of beer-league beauties that came before him. Skate Hard - Quick Changes - Win the Parking Lot.

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