Military Appreciate night is always an emotionally charged game for the home team. Possibly there is also a little added pressure on that team to get the win to show added appreciation to the military in attendance.
The Boston Bruins have certainly had their fair share of home ice struggles. As the puck dropped for their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it looked like the Bruins had certainly come to play. Brad Marchand got the puck on his stick off a Zach Werenski turnover and fired it on net for netminder Sergei Bobrovsky to have to deny. At the other end on only their second shot on goal, Columbus would get on the board first—a scene all too familiar at TD Garden.
However, just a little over six minutes later, Torey Krug, with the one-timer from the blue line, would get his first goal of the season and tie the game. Building off the solid penalty kill from Matt Beleskey’s hooking call, the Bruins worked along the outside, David Krejci playing catch with Krug who would beat Bobrovsky on the blocker side.
Just 1:08 later, Beleskey would get the go ahead goal, also his first of the season—something he’s admitted to wanting to get the monkey off his back—while recalled Austin Czarnik got the assist. Two and a half minutes later Czarnik put the Bruins up 3-1 and then on their ninth shot on goal, Tim Schaller would put the puck in the back of the net again. Just 12:48 into the game the Bruins were up by three goals and Bobrovsky would view the rest of the game from the bench. Curtis McElhinney came in and allowed only one more goal on the 23 shots he saw.
It was clear that Krug’s goal and the strong response after getting behind so quickly set the tone for the remainder of the match.
“Well Boston is a good team. They get a lead like that, they are still not going to take a bunch of chances and get the game wide open,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said after the game. “They are going to check. So when you get down so early, and quite honestly, other than Zach’s [Werenski] turnover the first shift, the first few minutes of the game, we looked like we were ready to play. But then we just self-inflicted wounds and Boston locks it down and they are not going to take a bunch of chances with that type of lead.”
Perhaps what was also clear was the confidence the Bruins brought back from their game in Montreal on Tuesday. Despite the loss on the score sheet, the play on the ice in that game in front of emergency call up Zane McIntyre spoke to a different mindset.
“I think lately, we’ve trusted that game that we’ve built and had success on the road,” said David Backes. “I think the game in Montreal we had 43 shots on the second night of a back-to-back with travel against a really good team and I think that really instilled a belief in us that if we play that game, we’re going to tilt the scales in our favor. That mindset did it tonight—they scored the first one, we had a great reaction to it, get a couple quick ones and don’t look back after that.”
When the final buzzer sounded the score was 5-2. That second goal for Columbus, while attributed to Sam Gagner was actually the result of a misplay by Colin Miller that resulted in the puck getting under Tuukka Rask’s pad and going in. It is surely something that Miller would definitely like to forget. Post game Rask chuckled and inferred that because it wasn’t a game changer there was no harm, no foul as far as he was concerned.
Another area in which the Bruins have been laboring the past couple of games is in the faceoff circle. Even Patrice Bergeron has not been his usual over 50 percent. Thursday night the Bruins dominated in the circle: Bergeron 10 for 14 (71%), Dominic Moore 13 for 16 (81%), Krejci 6 for 11 (55%), and Riley Nash 5 for 9 (56%). When a team can win so consistently on the draw, they can certainly capitalize. And what makes this all the more impressive is that the Blue Jackets are not a team that the Bruins see repeatedly throughout the regular season. Coupling that with the nine players who had at least one point in the game speaks to a level of balanced play that had not yet been exhibited by the Bruins.
This is an excellent energy level for Boston to be on as they head out for a three-game road trip into next week before returning to TD Garden on Saturday, November 19 to host the Winnipeg Jets. There are still some areas in which the Bruins need to get stronger, themselves having ten giveaways on Thursday, but their confidence is at a much better level going into the first on the road against the Arizona Coyotes this Saturday night.