Thanks to an incredible individual effort from Brad Marchand, the Bruins beat the Devils 2-1 in the home opener last night.
Though the Bruins carried play for a majority of the game, the third period began level. Patrice Bergeron took a hooking penalty, and 30 seconds later the B’s were trailing. Brandon Carlo got into a shooting lane and tried to block a Kyle Palmieri shot, but it clipped his skate, redirected and ended up right between Tuukka’s legs. One of the downsides to having a massive D pair like Chara and Carlo seems to be making sure Tuukka can see the puck. On this play it seems clear Rask had no view of the shot, regardless of the deflection. Down a goal (again failing to score first for the fourth consecutive game), the Bruins responded in a big way. They would go on to take the next 14 shots, including the tying goal from Brad Marchand. Marchand entered the zone 1 v. 2, and rifled a quick shot over the shoulder of Cory Schneider from the top of the circle.
Boston didn’t relent after that. With the pressure mounting in the New Jersey Zone, and Brad Marchand possessing the puck behind the net, Patrice Bergeron found a soft spot in the Devils coverage high off the back post and made himself ready for a tremendous pass from Marchand as he emerged from Gretzky’s office. Bergeron connected with the brilliant pass, and found the back of the net again. Though things looked somewhat safe, a flurry in front of Rask resulted in Brandon Carlo tackling a dude by the face, and David Backes dropping the gloves (with no dance partner) to put New Jersey on the PowerPlay with 50 seconds remaining in the game. To his credit, Claude Julien allowed Carlo to stay on the ice in this high pressure situation, and the kid and his teammates delivered. They protected the net 6 v 4, and the Bruins held on to win.
They’ve taken 6 out of 8 points to start the season, a far cry from last years start. A note of caution, that Boston’s had a bit of a cake walk at least in the talent of opponents. They’ve yet to play any teams considered to be the heart of the league, but they’re winning winnable games which is a bit of a different vibe than the last two years. Not only that, they’re overcoming deficits to win. It will not be sustainable if they keep falling behind, but they’re improving on their early game brain farts. New Jersey scored first last night, sure, but at least the B’s locked it down for 2 full periods first.
Next up, the new(ish) look Montreal Canadiens who are off to a 3-0-1 start to the season.
Brad Marchand- He’s playing the best hockey of his career, and has factored in 9 of Boston’s 13 goals. His shot to tie, and pass to Bergeron to take the lead, dazzled fans.
Patrice Bergeron- Hooking penalty aside, he was a monster. He was largely tasked with shutting down the Taylor Hall line, and shut them down they did. Then, he was able to chip in on offense in his first game back with a GWG.
Tuukka Rask- Another nice night from Tuukka, who demonstrated pretty impressive rebound control all night, and helped settle the B’s when they were running around int he D zone for extended periods of time. The only blemish came on a redirected shot that he never saw. What’s more is he’s clearly dealing with a nagging injury (almost looks like an abdominal strain or something the way he keeps hunching over) but he’s battling through it and playing well on top of it. He’s been very good since the abhorrent Columbus goal on the first shot of the season.
David Backes- First game on the wing with Krecji and played OK for the most part, but a stupid penalty after the Bruins finally take the lead to keep the door open for New Jersey is a bad move. Apparently the B’s are only accepting candidates with a PHD in stupid. He has to know the situation there, and in a scrum you can get away with a lot but maybe don’t drop your gloves or be violent directly in front of the ref?
Jimmy Hayes- Meh. lowest time on ice in the game, and not really doing anything to prove that he deserves more. He showed a little bit of intensity at points, but unfortunately it was mostly after the whistle jawing or pushing. Between the whistles he still has a lot of work to do to earn some more playing time.
Ryan Spooner- ( i know he didn’t play) I’m sure this is a Claude wake up call, but he needs to be in the lineup and like Hayes just isn’t doing anything to prove he belongs on the ice. Spooner needs to earn a spot before Vatrano comes back, or Krecji is going to be forced into a rotating wing situation all season that he has publicly complained about so often.