|12.05.16 at 9:43 pm ET|
What you’re watching is a boy become a man in David Pastrnak.
In just his 21st game of the season, it was the 20-year-old Pastrnak that came through with two key goals, including the overtime game-winner, in a 4-3 final over the visiting Panthers, for his 14th and 15th goals of the year and the win to put the B’s at three in a row.
His clinic against the Cats was just par for the course in a game in which the Bruins simply devoured the Panthers’ D for 36 shots against.
In what was a gamelong execution, the weak point of the Panthers through the first two months of the season, the Bruins exposed their shoddy defensive play with some first period trickery. Or just some flatout mind numbing patience. It was center David Krejci that set up camp behind the Florida net with enough patience and borderline boredom from No. 46 that lulled the Panthers into a puck-watching daze while winger Tim Schaller broke through a four-man box of Panthers, including Aaron Ekblad, and scored on Roberto Luongo for his fourth goal of the season.
Scored with just 1:28 left in the first period, Schaller’s tally as the game’s lone goal through 20 minutes of play.
But as they did in Buffalo two days prior, the Bruins allowed the opposition to claw their way back into contention behind a sleepy middle period that featured 11 shots on Tuukka Rask, with Jaromir Jagr finally putting the Cats on the board at the 9:44 mark.
The Bruins once again exposed some wrinkles in their opponent’s defense, however, as the Bergeron line danced around the attacking zone to the dismay of the Panthers. It began with a Patrice Bergeron shot that went a little high of Luongo, was continued with a Brad Marchand retrieval of the puck, and finished with a bullet from David Pastrnak.
With the goal, scored with just 3:23 left in the second period, Pastrnak’s total on the year jumped to 14, while his post-injury return line jumped up to four goals and six points in seven games since Thanksgiving.
Florida answered yet again, though, 7:54 into the third period behind an Aleksander Barkov goal (with an assist to ex-Bruin Reilly Smith) that featured a rarely seen sight: a Bergeron turnover and Zdeno Chara present goal against.
Like a boxing match, these teams continued to trade punches, as the Bruins jumped back out front with a David Backes deflection just over the 13-minute mark of the third period for his seventh goal of the season. But like they did all game, the Panthers responded late, on 6-on-5 goal scored by Jason Demers with just 1:29 to go in the third.
It was the Bruins that once again had their say, though, behind Pastrnak’s second of the night, scored just 1:23 into the overtime on a true goal-scorer’s goal that straight-up fooled the 37-year-old Luongo onto his back and out of the play.
Here are four other things we learned in this one
|12.05.16 at 7:37 pm ET|
If all goes to plan, the Bruins will have at least two of their defensemen from the 2016 NHL Draft well represented at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Montreal. And that’s just on the Team USA roster.
Per an announcement from USA Hockey earlier today, B’s prospects Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Lindgren were among the 27 named to Team USA’s preliminary roster, and will compete for a spot on the roster beginning with a five-day camp in Buffalo, N.Y., from Dec. 16 to 20.
McAvoy, drafted by the B’s with the 14th overall pick this past draft, is in the midst of his second season with Boston University, and has recorded one goal and 12 points in 14 games for the Terriers this year.
The 18-year-old McAvoy had zero points and a plus-5 rating in seven games for Team USA in last year’s tournament.
And Lindgren, the 49th overall pick from the 2016 class, has earned an invite back to Team USA camp after a one goal and three point start to his freshman season with the University of Minnesota through 14 games. Lindgren skated in the U-18 World Juniors a year ago, where he served as the team’s captain, and contributed two goals and five points in seven contests.
The Americans took home the Bronze in last year’s tourney, and have medaled in four of the last seven tournaments.
|12.05.16 at 5:09 pm ET|
Don’t let Anton Blidh’s quiet demeanor and nervous laugh off the ice fool you. The energetic forward knows how to seek and annoy.
“That’s my job,” Blidh, who is expected to begin his night on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jimmy Hayes, said after the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s head-to-head with the Panthers. “I know I’m here to bring energy.”
Called up from the P-Bruins for his NHL debut last Saturday in a 2-1 win over the Sabres, the 21-year-old put forth a solid effort, credited with four hits and three shots on goal in just 10:12 of time on ice.
Built a little different than the other seven rookies or prospects that have made their NHL debut for the Black and Gold this season. Blidh, a former sixth-round draft choice (180th overall) by the club in 2013, is not here to score or fill-in on the Bruins’ top six.
Blidh is here to cause havoc for the opposition in any and every situation.
|12.05.16 at 1:03 pm ET|
A grind-it-out 2-1 road victory over the Sabres last Saturday did not come without a price for the Bruins.
Just how much of a price, however, remains to be fully seen just yet.
Injured at the end of the first period on a hit from the Sabres’ Taylor Fedun at the blue line, Bruins winger Matt Beleskey gingerly made his way to the B’s bench and down the tunnel — where he would not return in a night that ended just 5:27 into it — as he favored what looked like a hip injury.
Absent from the on-ice portion of the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s Atlantic Division matchup with the Panthers, the Bruins had an update — of sorts, anyways — on No. 39.
“He’s seeing our doctors as we speak,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked for a Beleskey update. “We’ll obviously have our answer there right around tonight.”
With Beleskey out, Ryan Spooner shuffles in as the expected third line left-wing on a line with Riley Nash and Austin Czarnik.
In 24 contests this year, the 28-year-old Beleskey has tallied two goals and five points, and contributed 62 hits, most among B’s.
|12.05.16 at 12:33 pm ET|
After six games on the shelf with a lower-body injury, with increasing participation in practices and morning skates but still no game action, B’s captain Zdeno Chara was back in his normal spot on the top pairing opposite Brandon Carlo for the club’s Monday morning skate.
“Probable,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Chara’s status for tonight’s game against the Panthers. “More than likely probable.”
The Bruins have gone 3-2-1 in Chara’s absence, outscoring their opponents 12-to-10 while allowing 28.8 shots against per night.
With their 6-foot-9 captain in action this season, the Bruins have gone 11-8-0, and allowed just 44 goals (2.32 goals against per night).
Now in his 10th year as the Bruins’ captain, Chara has recorded one goal and five assists, along with a plus-12 rating, and a 53.0 Corsi-For percentage this season.
|12.04.16 at 12:53 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron’s fourth goal of the season turned out to be a big one for the Bruins in a 2-1 road victory over the Sabres. That sentence reads odd. Not because Bergeron’s goal was an important one — he’s scored tons of those over his decade-plus with the B’s — but rather the fact that it was just his fourth goal of the season, 22 games into the season.
In fact, with four goals and seven points through 22 games this season, this is a season in which No. 37 is paced for just 26 points this year.
If that pace holds, it would obviously finish the lowest single-season total of his career (excluding the 10-game 2007-08 campaign that was cut short by a devastating Grade-3 concussion that plagued Bergeron’s health for almost — if not over — an entire year).
Compare this year’s totals to date versus where Bergeron was a year ago — which was eight goals and 22 points and 74 shots on goal in 22 games — and you understand the concern. What makes those struggles even more concerning, in a way, is that Bergeron is on a line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, two players that either continued to score (Marchand) or developed into one of the game’s top talents (Pastrnak). The counterpoint to that argument, however, is that there’s still only one puck on the ice at once, so perhaps Bergeron’s dip in production was to be expected with that kind of talent around him.
It’s of course worth noting that Bergeron did miss the first three games of this season with a lower-body injury (an injury some believe it’s still lingering), and skated through yesterday’s game with a sickness that limited Bergeron’s overall game.
“He just sucks it up,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron. “You gotta do a heck of a lot to keep him out of a lineup. He almost has to be strapped down to a bed for him not to come and play. He plays through a lot.”
But even so, Bergeron has made his production count.
Of his four goals this year, two have been third period game-winning goals, including Saturday’s strike in Buffalo. His others include the opening goal of what finished as a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Nov. 5, though Bergeron did his part with a goal in the opening 3:44 of the game, and one of the B’s four goals in a blowout win over the Jets Nov. 19. Of his three assists, two came in a massive 4-3 road win over the Lightning, while the other came in last Sunday’s home win over the Bolts.
So at least that part of his game — Bergeron entered this year sixth on the club’s all-time game-winning goals list and just four away from moving into the top five, with 48 — has remained the same for the Black and Gold.
“That’s why he’s not only an unsung hero to our team, but also a great player, nothing stops him,” said Julien.
|12.03.16 at 3:52 pm ET|
Days like Saturday in Buffalo are the perfect reminder as to just how lost the Bruins would be without goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Under siege after a mild first period, the 29-year-old Rask came up with 32 stops in the final 40 minutes of the game, including 16 in the third and final frame, in a 2-1 final for the Bruins over the Sabres.
On the board against Sabres netminder Robin Lehner 14:10 into the first period behind a David Krejci tip-in off a Brandon Carlo bomb from the point, the Bruins carried that 1-0 edge into the first intermission while holding the Sabres to just three shots.
In a whiteknuckle start to the third period, the Bruins finally extended their lead out to two when Patrice Bergeron corralled a bouncing puck from one side of the slot all the around other to the other side behind the net, and successfully batted the puck home for his fourth goal of the season, scored at the 7:44 mark of the third.
The goal, with assists to David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, was Bergeron’s first goal in seven games, while the assist gave Pastrnak his 12th point in his last 14 games played, and fifth in six games since returning from his upper-body injury on Nov. 24.
The Sabres finally countered the B’s strikes with Evander Kane’s first goal of the season, however, scored off an Adam McQuaid turnover. With a backwards dump that put the puck on Sam Reinhart’s stick and then thrown back out to Kane, the struggling Kane popped the puck up and over Rask 9:12 into the third period to bring the Blades back within one.
But the Bruins survived, and came up with a big kill with Austin Czarnik in the box with under seven minutes to go in the third.
It helped pace the B’s and put an end to a Sabres comeback shot behind a Marchand-heavy assault on Buffalo skaters.
Behind a season-high 35 stops, Rask improved to 13-4-1 on the year, and his save percentage jumped from .939 to .941.
Just another day at the office.
Here are four other things we learned in a matinee victory