Saturday afternoon the Boston Bruins played their last game before getting three days off to spend with their families for the holidays. They had much to be pleased with having won their previous three games, and having a 7-2-1 record in the month of December. They also were happy for their team mate, David Backes, who became a father for the second time. His wife had given birth to a son in the wee hours of Saturday morning. And yet, he was back in the lineup, despite a lack of sleep.

The game against the Detroit Red Wings was the second meeting of these two teams in December, with the previous game played in Detroit’s new arena amidst a heavy snow storm, that resulted in the Bruins with one of their wins, though it took overtime. Obviously, the Red Wings, who have been struggling, were hoping for a different outcome while in Boston.

The first period saw Brad Marchand notch his 15th goal, a power play goal, with assists from Backes and David Pastrnak. The Bruins happiness over getting the first goal was short lived, as the Red Wings Franz Nielsen tied things up with a shorthanded goal. And that is where the score would stay through the remainder of the first, all of the second and a bit over six minutes into the third.

Patrice Bergeron would break the tie at 6:11 of the final twenty, with assists from Marchand and Pastrnak. The even strength goal was the result of the communication of that line. The passes were tape to tape and their confidence put the puck behind Jimmy Howard.

Not surprisingly the Red Wings were doing everything they could after they had tied the game to be the team to get the next one. They were outshooting the Bruins and at one point, if it hadn’t been for Zdeno Chara who got his stick on a puck that was behind Tuukka Rask it could have been a completely different game. In fact, Chara would be important in a few plays.

The Bruins defense has been improving, including their young players like Charlie McAvoy.

Charlie McAvoy

“Playing good, I mean, we’re a confident group back there. Some of our strengths are probably moving the puck. We have a lot of puck-movers back there, guys who can skate and move it,” McAvoy shared. “It helps a lot when you have goalies like [Anton Khudobin] and [Rask] playing great hockey. Playing really good hockey as of late, full team effort. On the back end we try and minimize opportunities and make sure we’re doing our jobs as far as breaking pucks out pretty easily. That’s what we hope, it’s not always like that. Great overall effort tonight again, we’re really excited going into the break like this.”

Of course, even with the greatest defense, if a team isn’t scoring goals, they will not win a game. And while the games have all been close, including Saturday’s win over the Red Wings, the Bruins have found a couple of scoring lines. The Bergeron line’s consistency is well known.

Patrice Bergeron in front of Jimmy Howard

“I’m glad they’re on our team. That’s a matchup I wouldn’t want to play against. They’re all so skilled, they all think the game very well. They’re always in the right position, they’re always making plays happen. I think their hockey IQs is what allows them to have the success they have,” McAvoy said about the Bruins’ top line. “[Bergeron] as a center man, he’s always in the middle. He’s always that kind of safety valve. When he’s out there I’m confident we’re going to be alright and we’re going to be playing in their zone.”

Another strong line for the Bruins has now become the one of Backes, Riley Nash and Danton Heinen. Backes, though only in his second year with the Bruins, is a veteran of the NHL and his input on the ice and on the bench is becoming more evident each game. The chemistry between this line was clear when Nash was out on Thursday from illness, and Backes and Heinen weren’t as strong. Backes added two assists to his points total in Saturday’s game.

The team gets to go on the holiday break with four wins. They can relax and spend time with their families. But they will be back at it and focused on Wednesday, when the Edmonton Oilers come to Boston.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.


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