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Don’t pin ugly loss on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask 03.17.17 at 5:31 am ET
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Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 17 shots on Thursday. ( Walter Tychnowicz/USA Today Sports)

Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 17 shots on Thursday. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins lost — and lost badly — for just the fourth time in their last 16 games on Thursday night. So naturally, there had to be a scapegoat.

No, this couldn’t just be a tired team losing on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back. The Bruins played in Calgary and ended the Flames’ 10-game win streak on Wednesday while the Oilers have been in Edmonton since Mar. 1 and were playing in just their sixth game in the last 16 days. Irrelevant. We need a scapegoat, dammit. This couldn’t be giving the Oilers’ man advantage — which came into action ranked as the 7th-best power play in the NHL with a 21.3 percent success rate — six power-play opportunities, including four in the first 32 minutes of action. I’ve told you already, a scapegoat must be found!

So as it almost always does when this team loses, the ire of B’s fans landed on their goaltender, Tuukka Rask, who allowed five goals on 17 shots and was given the early hook from Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy in what finished as a 7-4 loss for the Black and Gold.

But let’s be real: This loss does not fall on the 30-year-old Rask.

Not if you have a clue as to what you watched happen in front of him on Thursday, anyways.

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Bruins save stinker for last, get blown out by Oilers 03.17.17 at 12:15 am ET
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The Oilers scored seven goals against the Bruins. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA Today Sports)

The Oilers scored seven goals against the Bruins. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA Today Sports)

It was at the 8:23 mark of the first period that the Bruins found themselves down three goals to the Oilers.

Patrick Maroon had the first two goals, the first of which came on the power play and the second scored just 59 seconds after that, and Benoit Pouliot had the third. That spelled trouble for a number of reasons, chief of which being that the damage did not come from Connor McDavid (although he came through with the primary assist on Maroon’s second goal) or any of the Oilers’ go-to scorers, the second reason being that their defensive play was straight-up abysmal, and the third biggest reason being… well.. it’s three goals in eight minutes.

But Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy did not hit the panic button. Instead, he relied on his best players to come through and make a game out of it the best they could, which turned out to be the case, for about five minutes anyways, in what finished as an ugly 7-4 loss in Edmonton.

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Bruins go for Western Canada sweep against Connor McDavid’s Oilers 03.16.17 at 8:16 pm ET
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The Bruins will try to even the season series against the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will try to even the season series against the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Thanks to wins over the Canucks on Monday and Flames on Wednesday — and with the Bruins having outscored those opponents by a combined 11-to-5 along the way — this trip to Western Canada has already been a massive success for the Black and Gold.

The trip can get even better for the Bruins tonight, too, who are in search of the road trip sweep as they wrap up their tour of the Pacific Division’s Canadian clubs with a head-to-head against the Oilers.

The Oilers proved to be too much for the Bruins to handle in their only other meeting this season, and dropped the Bruins by a 4-3 final at TD Garden thanks to a hat trick from Oilers winger Patrick Maroon.

But it almost goes without saying that the Bruins are a much, much different team now than they were just over two months ago.

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Meet your new NHL goals and points leader: Bruins winger Brad Marchand 03.16.17 at 2:19 am ET
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Brad Marchand leads the league in goals and points. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand leads the league in goals and points. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

It’s March 16 and Bruins winger Brad Marchand is leading the National Hockey League in goals and points. Just like we all expected, I’m sure.

In what’s emerging as one of the most incredible start to finish runs in recent B’s history, Marchand continued his tear on Wednesday night with a goal and an assist in Boston’s 5-2 win over the Flames.

The goal, number 36 of Marchand’s season and by all means gifted to him by Flames netminder Chad Johnson, pushed him one ahead of Sidney Crosby, with whom he entered action tied with at 35, for the league lead (Crosby’s Penguins were shutout by the Flyers last night).

And with the assist on David Pastrnak’s empty-net goal, Marchand’s 40th helper of the season, the 28-year-old’s point total was bumped up to 76, which puts him in a tie with Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid for the most in the NHL.

“Now that he’s close I’m sure he’s going to will himself to be the leading scorer, and if he doesn’t he’s going to be close, because when Brad gets after something, he’s not going to be denied,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Marchand before Wednesday’s win over the Flames. “First it was getting to the National Hockey League, then getting into the lineup being a regular, and then moving up the lineup. He’s a pretty determined fella.”

Marchand’s leaguewide destruction is nothing new, of course, as he currently ranks third in goals scored since the start of the 2015-16 season with 73 (Kane has 77 and Alex Ovechkin has a league-best 78) and ranks 10th in points since then.

The Bruins have not had a player lead the league in goals since Phil Esposito scored 61 in 1974-75, and have not had a player lead the league in points since Bobby Orr tallied 135 in that same season. The Bruins have never had a player lead the league in both goals and points. Esposito was the last Bruin to lead the league in both in the same season, too, accomplished in 1973-74.

Marchand, for the record, still will not consider himself elite. Not openly, anyways.

Bruins winger David Pastrnak hits 30-goal mark in win over Flames 03.16.17 at 1:37 am ET
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David Pastrnak has 30 goals this season. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak has 30 goals this season. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Goalie or no goalie they all count the same, and after the empty-net dagger scored in a 5-2 Bruins win over the Flames, third-year pro David Pastrnak is officially the NHL’s newest 30-goal scorer.

30 goals seemed like a mere inevitability for the 20-year-old Pastrnak this year — even when he was mired in a mid-season slump that included just one goal in 20 games from Dec. 10 to Feb. 1 — but the plateau does put Pastrnak in a group with some elite company.

With 30 goals and 32 helpers on the season, Pastrnak becomes the 10th player since 2005 to have recorded a 30-goal, 30-assist season before the age of 21. The other names on that list? Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Skinner, Steven Stamkos, and Jonathan Toews. Crosby and Stamkos were the only two of that group to accomplish the feat twice.

The goal also made Pastrnak just the third skater in Bruins history to have recorded a 30-goal season before the age of 21, joining Barry Pederson (44 goals in 1981-82) and Bergeron (31 goals in 2005-06). It’s worth noting that former Bruins sniper Phil Kessel did record 36 goals in his third season in town, but turned 21 years old right before the start of the season.

Pastrnak is currently paced to finish the season with 36 goals and 74 points this season.

David Backes shows off character with game-winning goal against Flames 03.16.17 at 12:42 am ET
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David Backes returned from an ugly-looking injury and scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

David Backes returned from an ugly-looking injury and scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Sports fans love to see their team’s best players get injured and then return from said injury all within the same game.

It probably seems bizarre to the casual observer, and I’ll be honest and admit to them that I can’t explain it. It’s just a thing and will always will be a thing. Some players have built an entire reputation on their ability to endure the bumps and bruises of a season and actually use them to their advantage in the late stages of a year with sheer willpower.

David Backes is without a doubt one of those players.

The 6-foot-3 Backes has the scars and NHL track record to prove it, too, which is one of the reasons why the Black and Gold chose to invest $30 million in a player on the wrong side of 30 (Backes turns 33 later this year) last summer. An ironman willing to battle through anything — deficits, hits, and sometimes people — Backes showed off that part of his lauded character in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Flames, a win that snapped Calgary’s 10-game winning streak and one that featured more than a couple of battles for Backes.

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Can Bruins end the Flames’ 10-game win streak? 03.15.17 at 8:41 pm ET
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The Bruins will try to end the Flames' 10-game winning streak tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will try to end the Flames’ 10-game winning streak tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

The odds and recent history would tell you that the Bruins are up against it tonight when they skate against the Flames.

Not only have the Bruins won in Calgary just two times since 1999, and not only did the Flames take the prior head-to-head between the two teams this season, but the Flames come into action with a franchise-best 10-game winning streak to their name. Oh, and the Bruins are starting backup netminder Anton Khudobin over Tuukka Rask.

An easy win? This will be anything but.

But that same logic could and should be applied for the Bruins.

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