(Photo: NHL Bruins)
After the absolute spanking that the Boston Bruins suffered at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings this past Wednesday, there was some concern among the Bruins fan base as to what kind of play the team would bring to the ice on Friday afternoon’s tilt against the New York Rangers followed by their third game in four nights against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Despite the clamoring of every armchair coach of the Bruins Fam on Twitter, head coach Claude Julien had elected not to pull goalie Tuukka Rask in Detroit and to start him on Friday against the the Rangers, who had Henrik Lundqvist in between the pipes.
To say that there wasn’t some wailing and gnashing of teeth when Rangers Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh got wrist shots past Rask at 13:04 and 14:26 of the first to put the Rangers up 2-1 at the end of that period, would be a lie. There were probably more F-bombs dropping on Twitter than were being dropped by the players on the ice.
The Bruins managed to turn the tables though. Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara dropped the gloves with Rangers Brian Boyle–a Hingham, Massachusetts native and Boston College Eagles alumni–at 14:57 of the second. At lot was said about how brave Boyle was to stand up to Chara in such a battle. But for the Bruins it meant that they were getting emotionally invested. Chara leads by example, which was clear in this game, and was discussed in an excellent article by Hockey Hall of Fame scribe, Kevin Paul DuPont published recently.
It’s a known fact that when the Bruins are emotionally involved they go to a whole other level of play. Such was the case on Friday when just 1:35 into the third period Patrice Bergeron got a snapshot past Lundqvist. Solid play kept things tied until 11:05 of the third when Chara scored on a slapshot from the point–earning himself a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Bruins were able to hang on to the lead, winning the game. The Bruins kept the Rangers to just 19 shots on goal, allowing only four of those in the third.
It was not really news, after having played five of the last six games, when it was announced that Rask would be relegated to backup with Chad Johnson being given the nod for the Saturday night game against the Blue Jackets. Some people were wondering what kind of energy the Bruins would bring to this last game before having a few days off.
The Garden crowd would have only to wait until 9:02 into the first to see an impressive wrist shot by Patrice Bergeron that went five hole on the Blue Jackets’ Curtis McElhinney, after having gone right through the legs of Loui Eriksson, who was screening McElhinney.
When asked about his wrister after the game, Bergeron said “I was just trying to put it on net for Loui to try to tip it.” With a little grin he continued “I’m definitely going to take those goals. Those bounces my way, I’ll take it and I don’t mind.”
The Bruins were moving the puck well, working hard to make solid tape-to-tape passes. At the end of the second period, which included a little four-on-four play and Lucic dropping the gloves with Dalton Prout, the shots on goal showed that the Bruins were determined to shoot everything on the Blue Jackets net minder. The shots on goal going into the second intermission were 25 to 9 in favor of the Bruins.
At 2:15 of the third Lucic was on the ice for another goal. At first glance it looked like the goal had come off Jarome Iginla’s stick with the assist to Lucic who would have earned his own Gordie Howe hat trick. But alas, Lucic would instead have to settle for his second goal of the game, giving him a team high 11 goals on the season.
When questioned after the game, Lucic smiled and responded, “It would’ve been nice to get the Gordie, especially after Zee [Chara] got it yesterday but like I said you’re not going to complain with the goal over an assist.”
“You’re not going to complain with the goal over an assist.” — Milan Lucic
When the evening was all said and done, there wasn’t anyone in the Bruins locker room who wasn’t happy with how the team had responded on the back-to-back games, re-emerging with that well-known Bruins style of play. They had managed to hold the Rangers to just 19 shots and then turned around and held the Blue Jackets to just 14 shots on goal.
And as they sit in first place in the Eastern Conference, they will smile a little bit more and enjoy the positive vibes, but they also know that with only 27 games completed, the season is still far from over. They know that as they gather for practice that nothing matters except the next game, and hopefully the next two points. And for this team, that will mean their first regular season matchup against their long-time nemesis, the Montreal Canadiens, which will take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec on Thursday, December 5th.