Monday night the Boston Bruins played host to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both had played on Saturday and both lost, though the Blue Jackets lost by just one goal. The Bruins were clearly not pleased with their game on Saturday and were determined to bring a better full-team effort from the first puck drop against Columbus.
The Bruins were certainly motivated on Monday, outshooting the Blue Jackets 45-18 by the end of the game. The final score of 7-2 showed the effort that Boston brought to the game, but perhaps the number of players who had a hand in those goals speaks to a team in which everyone brought their A game.
The momentum was set when Brad Marchand scored 14:48 into the first period. The chemistry that he and Patrice Bergeron have is often on display, but Bergeron patiently waited below the goal line and fed Marchand the puck, who put it in the net to give the Bruins the first goal of the game. Not playing from behind was an important factor in the game. But having the veterans working hard is also important to the young players.
“We want to do that at home. We’ve talked about that. I mean, obviously we’d love to do that on the road as well but certainly in this building we want to make it difficult for teams to come in and establish any sort of control or pace to the game,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game.
Of those in Black and Gold, seven different players notched a goal on the evening: Marchand (EV), David Backes (PP), Charlie McAvoy (PP), Danton Heinen (EV), Torey Krug (EV) Bergeron (EV), and Jake DeBrusk.
Ten Bruins players had assists, with three having two assists. Heinen and DeBrusk had three-point nights with a goal and two assists each. And McAvoy had a goal, an assist and his first NHL career fight for his first Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
“I know I try to play the game with a lot of passion, and that’s something [Pierre-Luc DuBois] was doing too. Stuff like that is going to happen. It happened really quick and I felt like I was able to protect myself pretty well,” McAvoy said about his fight. “I came from college hockey, so there was no fighting, nothing like that. I knew that the way I play, the way I try and play hard, and I play on the physical side, so I knew that sometimes you’re going to have to kind of answer the bell I guess.”
McAvoy doesn’t seem phased much being in the NHL, and in fact had four hits on the night. And while he may not have had much experience with fighting at the college level, he did get a bit of coaching during his brief stint with the Providence Bruins.
“My first day in Providence I worked with Tyler Randell for about 15 minutes after practice and he just kind of taught me how to protect myself. It’s a good guy to learn from,” he shared.
McAvoy, Heinen and DeBrusk are strong examples of what can be accomplished when the rookies are working and listening to the veterans. For DeBrusk—who was a healthy scratch for a few games—he has been given the chance to prove himself again. He’s hungry, but he admires the veterans, and watches them in practice. And Monday night it paid off, with his helpers on the Bruins’ two power play goals.
“Well the first one was kind of a weird play to be honest. I just came up and took the puck and it was pretty much a two on one, so I just kind of tried to make a play, so that one was different than usual because usually they’re in their set,” DeBrusk described. “And then the other one was just, you know, a play I’ve seen [Marchand] do, you know, a thousand times and I saw a seam open and [McAvoy] finished it pretty good.”
It is clear that DeBrusk idolizes Marchand, but it is also clear that DeBrusk watches him in practice and is learning from him. Showing effort at practice is important for the rookies to see. It is one of the things that all of the core leadership exhibit, and it is sinking in for the younger players.
“I think it’s key to being a pro and we have a lot of good veteran leadership that came before us—they all worked that way in practice and you learn from those guys,” Marchand said after the game. “And you know, we need that from everyone. It’s how you improve your game when you practice how you play, and you know, it’s good that we practice as hard as we do every day and it’s transferring over to the games right now.”
Heinen plays on a line with Backes and Riley Nash, which could be a bit intimidating. For many youngsters they may feel they need to pass the puck to the more experienced players. And some of the veterans may feel that is the role of a young rookie. Backes sees things differently.
“I think I’ve always liked [Heinen]. I think he’s starting to feel a little more comfortable. Trying to tell him that, don’t think of [Nash] and I as older guys and him as a younger guy,” Backes said about Heinen’s game. “You don’t have to force pucks for us. We’re three equal parts. We go out there, we play our butts off and try to make hockey plays and score goals and help our team win, and just kind of give him that confidence that he belongs and he’s part of what we’re going to do as a whole. And he’s certainly showed he belongs and he can make plays at a high level and finish well and does that again tonight, and had three points tonight which you know they’re not flukey things he’s doing out there and it’s great to see.”
The veterans recognize the contributions of the rookies and the rookies recognize the leadership and examples they have in the veterans. With a mix of both on each line, the Bruins can become a powerful team. Monday night’s win was an example of that.