|5 Things We Learned as B’s first line dominates while Hayes scores shootout winner over Lightning||11.03.16 at 10:49 pm ET|
For various reasons, most of which out of their control, the Boston Bruins have not had their top line of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on either side of Patrice Bergeron together as much as they’d like this season.
But back from their latest split — this time because of a two-game ban for David Pastrnak’s illegal check to the head to the Rangers’ Dan Girardi last Wednesday at Madison Square Garden — the band proved to still have their scoring touch intact in the club’s third straight victory, a 4-3 shootout final over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
In their first of five head-to-heads with the Bolts this year, the Bruins struck first on a bad angle goal scored by B’s defenseman Brandon Carlo. The recipient of a Bergeron faceoff win, Carlo snuck down low, caught Tampa Bay Lightning Andrej Sustr in an awkward defending angle, and squeaked a puck through Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy just 4:01 into the first period for his second goal of the season, and first in seven games.
The Bruins lead was extended to two midway through the period, too, as a Ryan Spooner power-play rocket beat Vasilevskiy cleanly for Spooner’s second goal of the season. Their first power play goal in their last 16 attempts, the goal featured some brilliant cycle work from everybody on the B’s first unit, including the net-front Brad Marchand, and especially Spooner, who made two great passes before the puck was back on his stick and in the Lightning cage.
The lethal Lightning power play would answer with a goal of their own, however, as Victor Hedman unleashed a point blast — with Valtteri Filppula and Brayden Point generating terrific traffic in front of B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask — at 15:09 of the first period.
In a dominant offensive zone display, it was the Bergeron line that re-established a two-goal edge for the Bruins, with a frantic pace and passing that straight-up baffled the Lightning defensemen before Pastrnak tucked home his sixth goal of the season less than five minutes into the frame. But once again, the Lightning power play had their say, scored their second power-play goal in as many opportunities, this time from the stick of Tyler Johnson.
It would be Johnson that answered again for the Bolts, too, this time midway through the third period on an incredibly high — but (somewhat surprisingly) deemed legal after a quick video review — deflection down over Rask’s shoulder and into the B’s net for a 3-3 draw.
Tied through the 60-minute mark, the Bruins went to their first overtime of the season.
And after twice being burned for power-play goals against in the third, the Bruins waited ’til the overtime to let their penalty kill magic shine through, as the Bruins had a monstrous effort from Bergeron and the pairing of Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid — pinned in their zone for nearly the full two minutes — before David Krejci exited the box. The overtime wrapped with the B’s unable to capitalize on a nearly 40-second power play of their own against the Lightning killers, and it was onto the first shootout of the season for the Black and Gold.
And after 19 shooters and just two goals total from each side, it would be Jimmy Hayes, who is still without a point on the year and will be as shootout goals count for zippo, that came through with the winner for the Black and Gold in the bottom of the 10th.
Here are four other things we learned from the B’s first shootout win of the season.
|Bruins pregame notes: Matt Beleskey scratched for “performance” as Bruins battle Lightning||11.03.16 at 6:47 pm ET|
Nine games into the 2016-17 season, Boston Bruins forward Matt Beleskey is still without a single point to his name.
But he’s not alone.
The 28-year-old is one of four Bruins forwards (and five players overall if you include defenseman Torey Krug) to have played in at least seven games and not record a point. His linemates, Jimmy Hayes and Riley Nash, join him in this category, as does first-year pro Danton Heinen. Heinen, of course, was assigned to the Providence Bruins yesterday. And tonight, Beleskey, who has played in all but two games (he sat those out with an upper-body injury) since coming to Boston last summer, will sit as a healthy scratch in an Atlantic Division showdown between the B’s and Tampa Bay Lightning.
His spot in the B’s lineup will instead go to Sean Kuraly, a true first-year pro hockey player with just eight games of total experience, all with the Providence Bruins, and with just one assist.
It’s message sending time from B’s head coach Claude Julien.
|Matt Beleskey an expected scratch for Bruins as Sean Kuraly makes NHL debut||11.03.16 at 2:02 pm ET|
Following consecutive road wins against Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins will look to make it three in a row and end their four-game road trip on a high note against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
And will attempt to do so with a lineup tweak to their hapless third line.
Winger Matt Beleskey, a player still without a point and a minus-7 rating in nine games this season, will sit as a scratch for the B’s.
It’s unspecified whether or not the scratch for Beleskey, who was at the morning skate but did not participate in any line rushes, is a healthy one — which would designate this as a wake up call of sorts for the $3.8 million dollar per year man — or if Beleskey is still feeling the effects of his collision into the post in Tuesday’s win over the Florida Panthers. While the 28-year-old logged the second-lowest time on ice among Bruins in the winning effort, at 9:37, which was also his lowest total of the season to date, Beleskey did skate in another four shifts after he came back from the locker room following the collision.
With Beleskey out, Sean Kuraly, up with the club on an emergency recall since Tuesday, will make his NHL debut and skate on the left side of the club’s third line with Jimmy Hayes and Riley Nash.
One of the last cuts from Bruins training camp, Kuraly was acquired by the Bruins in the deal that sent Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks, and came to the organization after a four-year collegiate career with Miami of Ohio that featured 43 goals and 90 points in 154 games.
Prior to his recall, Kuraly recorded one assist in eight games for the Providence Bruins.
|Jimmy Hayes is running out of time, chances to make impact for Bruins||11.02.16 at 6:31 pm ET|
At Sunrise’s BB&T Center for the first game in what will be another year of head-to-heads against the team that traded him two summers ago, a 2-1 win for the Boston Bruins, forward Jimmy Hayes was one pissed off dude.
In the box opposite Florida Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie following their matching minors, a between-the-boxes chat between the two clearly solved nothing as they immediately dropped the gloves upon exiting the box. Locked up with MacKenzie in front of the half-full, pressure-free building that the Dorchester, Mass., native used to call his home rink, Hayes tried his best to land punch after punch after punch to no avail before he settled for a WWE-style takedown.
It was the perfect microcosm of Hayes’ year-plus run — check that, stumble — with the Bruins.
The effort is there. But the results are not, nor have they ever been.
And the Black and Gold are running out of time — and patience — to wait for them to come.
|Bruins assign Danton Heinen to Providence Bruins||11.02.16 at 1:29 pm ET|
One up, one down.
In a practice day between their two-game tour of the Sunshine State, the Boston Bruins welcomed leading goal scorer David Pastrnak back to the ice after a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi last Wednesday. And, in a corresponding move, have assigned forward Danton Heinen down to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.
The 21-year-old Heinen, signed out of the University of Denver last summer, has skated in seven games for the Bruins this season, but has failed to record a point and has totaled just six shots on goal while in a top six role on the wing of Boston’s second line centered by David Krejci. Heinen skated in Pastrnak’s spot with the Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combo for the last two games, too, but still did not get on the board with a point.
But even without a point to his name, Bruins head coach Claude Julien noted that Heinen was still making strong decisions with the puck, and that he was still adapting to the speed of the NHL.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2014 (116th overall), and an impressive collegiate career that included 36 goals and 93 points in 81 games played, Heinen will report to the AHL in a pressure-free top six role, where he had two assists in two games for the P-Bruins a year ago.
The moves still leave the Bruins with 13 forwards overall, as Sean Kuraly, an emergency recall prior to yesterday’s game against the Panthers, remained with the club for today’s practice.
|Can you believe these dopes who want to trade Tuukka Rask?||11.02.16 at 10:31 am ET|
Tuukka Rask turned in yet another splendid performance in Tuesday night’s big divisional win in Sunrise, Fla, vs. the Panthers. The lanky Finn made 33 saves, including several big stops in the first period in which the Bruins were outshot 13-3. After the team dropped three straight with no Rask, giving up 14 goals in the process, they look like a completely different team in the last two games with him.
Rask stopped all 24 Detroit shots Saturday night to notch a road shutout then stopped 33 of 34 Florida shots last night to lead the Bruins to their second straight one-goal win. His .961 save percentage is second to only Jimmy Howard (who has started just three games). The 1.20 goals against average stands third overall behind two back-ups and is better than Carey Price’s 1.40. Five wins puts him third, tied with a handful of others.
Still, they chirp.
“Trade the bum” is a refrain as old as sports. But you have to question the hockey bona fides of somebody clamoring to move Rask. It’s typically the same dolts over and over who expect the B’s to just dump what teams often wait years to develop – a proven No. 1 goalie – then promote an unproven prospect to replace him.
It’s hardly a strategy for winning in today’s NHL, but that doesn’t stop the drumbeat every time a puck goes past the Bruins goal line.
Rask’s $7 million-a-year annual salary often makes him a target for people who apparently don’t realize that $6 million in today’s market gets you the likes of playoff washout Kari Lehtonen or past-his-prime Ryan Miller. The bottom line is it’s money well spent.
Additionally, it’s not Rask’s fault that the Bruins essentially gave him a contract year that allowed him to cash in. Rather than pay then-market value and getting him locked in cheaper, the B’s rolled the dice and Rask made them pay by helping the B’s to their second Cup appearance in two years.
It would be one thing if the B’s had a Matt Murray patiently waiting in the wings, but that’s not really close to the case right now. As we saw while Rask and his back-up, Anton Khudobin, were both out, neither goalie in Providence is threatening to take the starting gig anytime soon. So why do these dopes want to get rid of him so bad?
It’s nothing specific to Bruins, or even Boston fans, because every team’s fan base has a minority of fans who, thanks to the ‘miracle’ of social media, now have a way to project their voices that they never had before. Unfortunately, the sane ones among us are stuck hearing takes that were meant for no ears. And not even Rask can save us from them.
|Bruins lean heavily on Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo pairing in closing moments of win||11.02.16 at 2:21 am ET|
The Boston Bruins appeared well on their way towards an easy victory over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Tuesday night. (Well, as easy as an in-division “rivalry” game against the defending division winner from a year ago can be this time of year.)
But when Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal brought the Panthers back within one with just 4:35 left in the game, you could sense the sticks in front of B’s goalie Tuukka Rask begin to tighten.
Rask, who finished the night with 33 stops on 34 shots against, had done his part. Plus more. And it was on the skaters in front of him — and on their toes with a two-minute, 6-on-4 favoring the hometown Cats after an Adam McQuaid penalty at 16:40 of the third period — to back him up.
And it was the B’s top defensive pairing — team captain of 10 years Zdeno Chara and the 19-year-old Brandon Carlo — that shouldered the load in the final moments of a 2-1 final in their favor.