Boston Bruins Focus On Fixing Game After Rough Road Loss

 

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Patrice Bergeron #37 and David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrate after Bergeron’s goal put the Bruins up 3-1 against the New York Rangers in the second period at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 6, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

Well, that was an ugly one.  The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the National Hockey League this season.  As good as the B’s have been playing, we all sort of knew that one of those games was going to happen. The Black and Gold got mercilessly drubbed by the Vancouver Canucks 6-1 the other night.

While the Canucks and their fans celebrated like it was game eight of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals (It was seven years ago, and you lost, get over it.), the Bruins knew they’d have to take a step back and analyze exactly what went wrong on Saturday.

The answer was simple. The Bruins defensive game had gotten sloppy. The team had gaps in their coverage. The team seemed a little slow on the draw as well.  When those factors were added to Tuukka Rask having an off night, it led to the B’s giving up four first period goals against Vancouver.

The B’s knew that the team had lost a little polish off their game, but they usually relied on their offensive firepower to get themselves out of trouble.  That also seemed to let them down on Saturday (although not through lack of effort).  So, the Bruins will take this loss on the chin and get back to work.

“It’s been creeping into our game,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron about their lack of defensive effort. “We’ve been getting away from what’s been good to us.” Our defensive zone coverage has been lacking a little lately. We’ve got to tighten that up and yesterday was a perfect example…when you don’t start on time, and you have holes defensively that you don’t take care of, and don’t play the proper way and respect the game plan, that’s what happens.”

Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy knows his team will bounce back from this disappointment.  Still, he scheduled a Sunday practice that focused on the B’s remembering their strengths in the defensive zone. While the team didn’t need to go back to the drawing board, they did get a few touch-ups on their three-zone game.

“We built into practice. That’s generally what we do after a video session, where we try to teach or get better in an area, we’ll try to translate it into practice,” said Cassidy on the focus of the B’s Sunday practice. “We play tomorrow, we play Tuesday, so we’ve got to be careful. It was a workday.”

Even with the tough loss, the B’s are still in great shape. They’re one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic with five games in hand. The team will likely make life interesting for Dougie Hamilton and the rest of the Calgary squad as they fight to get themselves back in the win column.

Bruins Head Out On Northern Road Trip

NHL: Calgary Flames at Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson (USA TODAY Sports)

By: KG                   Follow me on Twitter: @kgbngblog and on FanCred at K G

The Bruins are currently out on their longest consecutive away games with five in a row, starting out in Vancouver and working their way back to end it in Buffalo. Boston has the best road record in the league with an incredible 16-6-4, and that’s following a 6-1 road loss last night to the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s a quick look at the rest of the upcoming games.

Calgary

Calgary has been having a very up and down season this year and the Bruins have just recently beaten them last Tuesday 5-2. The Flames are right on the cusp of making the playoffs, trailing Minnesota by one point. They have the roster and skill to make the playoffs, but their goaltending and team defense have been their issue. They have the fourth worst Goal Differential in their conference but are still right in the playoff mix. Head Coach Glen Gulutzan has lit a fire under his team following his outburst at their practice on Jan. 5th that has led to the Flames having a 10-5-4 record since.

Edmonton

After being one of the Cup favorites at the start of the season, Edmonton has fallen tremendously out of their high ranking. With trade rumors swirling around Patrick Maroon, the team is gearing up for some changes to their lineup. For Edmonton, their special teams are killing them this year. They rank 31st in both power play and penalty kill, which attributes to the change in the quality of play from netminder Cam Talbot. After a season where he came fourth in Vezina voting and even had a vote for the Hart trophy, his play has dropped off significantly. He has a .901 save percentage, and a 3.04 GAA. If the Bruins want to win this game they need to get the Oilers on the penalty kill,  take advantage of their way more efficient man-advantage play and get shots on net.

Talbot has also been pretty outspoken about goalie interference recently, which is pretty understandable. Here’s the audio. *There are a couple of f-words in this audio*

Toronto

Everyone is predicting this to be a first-round matchup in the playoffs, but I’m not so sure. Boston currently has three games in hand on Tampa Bay, and are only three points back of the first place in the Atlantic division, and first in the Eastern Conference. But no matter what happens in the next few months, the Bruins need to win this game first. Toronto has been on fire offensively in the past 10 games, totaling 42 goals in regulation/Overtime in those games. On the other hand, Boston is one of the best defensive teams, averaging only 2.4 goals against per game, the best in the league. If this does end up being a first-round series, we’ll be in for a treat.

Buffalo

After losing recently to the Sabers, Boston has no reason to treat this game any different than they would if they were playing a top end team like Tampa. They are currently 1-1-1 in three of their four-game series this season against Buffalo. The Sabers have gone 2-2-1 in their last five, and have been making a bit of a resurgence lately, even if they are still battling it out with Arizona for the best lottery draft odds at the bottom of the standings. Boston needs to get the two points and not give them a chance like they did on February 10th.

The Bruins are poised to pass the Lightning if they continue to play like they have in the second half of the season, and maybe pass Vegas too. At the end of this road trip, I expect them to have gone 3-1-1, picking up 7 of the possible 10.

 

Sources: Hockey-Reference.com, ESPN.com, moneypuck.com

 

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

Ryan Donato – Boston’s Captain America

451382010.0[1]Image Courtesy of Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

By: Aaron Chisling     Follow me on Twitter at @achisling

On a Boston Bruins team that is getting league-wide recognition regarding it’s Stanley Cup contender status. Many have marveled at Boston’s ability to manage their core of playoff-proven players in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes and Zdeno Chara with unproven rookie phenoms like Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly and Charlie McAvoy. Don Sweeney and Bruce Cassidy have cooked up a successful recipe it seems.  Most would assume that based on this influx of youth that the Bruins are enjoying that their cupboard of prospects would be bare of upcoming, high-end talent. Boy, are they wrong.

Ryan Donato, son of Ted Donato who spent nine seasons with the Boston Bruins and played for Team USA in the 1992 Olympic Winter Games,  was selected by the Bruins in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was selected in the 2nd round and 56th overall. He projected to be a long-term project, and it seems that the Bruins Brass’ patience will bear fruit. He looked outstanding at the 2017/2018 Bruins Development Camp. His performance at camp was right on par with Anders Bjork, if not better at times. He returned to Harvard where Teddy Donato is the Head Coach. He’s been scoring at a torrid pace, playing 23 games on the season while tallying 21 goals and 10 assists, with 1.35 points per game average. Each year he’s played with the Crimson, he’s had a definite improvement in his production. Take a look at the marked improvement each year below.

2018-02-16 07_50_17-Ryan Donato Career Statistics _ College Hockey NewsStatistics courtesy of Collegehockeynews.com

In addition to skyrocketing up the Bruins prospect rankings, Donato has attracted some international competitive attention this year. With Gary Bettman and the NHL’s Board of Governors electing to forego Olympic participation during the Pyeongchang Games, Team USA was forced to dip into the non-NHL-contracted player pool to assemble its roster. Ryan Donato was named to the team and has played a prominent role thus far. He’s been put on a line with 2017 WJC shootout hero Troy Terry and former NHL player Mark Arcobello. The trio has already developed some impressive chemistry and will be relied upon to do much of Team USA’s damage on the scoreboard. Last night’s close victory over Slovakia was a demonstration of just that. Check out this filthy goal which was Donato’s second of the night and the eventual game-winning goal.

If Team USA is to overcome the adversity and challenge ahead of them and eventually medal, Bruins prospect Ryan Donato will have a significant part in the performance. How crazy would it be to win Olympic Gold and potentially a Stanley Cup in the same season? It’s unlikely, but it’s looking more and more possible every day that the Bruins continue on the path that they’re on right now. If Ryan Donato keeps up the pace he’s at, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney will have no choice but to make a spot for him. Having too many good players is a significant problem to have, and I know Sweeney would feel the same way. Ryan Donato and Team USA face the Olympic Athletes from Russia at 7:10 AM ET on Saturday. I’ll be watching. You should know too.

For more Bruins live reaction, follow me on Twitter @achisling. I promise you’ll only regret it part of the time.

Boston Bruins Deadline: Why They Do Not Need ‘The Next Chara’ Right Now

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Photo Credit: nbcsports

By: Thomas Nystrom           Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom 

There appears to be a difference in opinion prevailing amongst Bruins fans. Do you go out and get the big name at the deadline? Do you stand pat? The fact that Boston is even in this situation is nothing short of incredible based on preseason expectations. The chemistry and production has been lauded in big media outlets across North America. The question has become: Do they have enough to win a cup? Regardless of which crowd you belong to, the Boston Bruins have some critical decisions to make in the next ten days regarding acquiring a big piece or depth pieces.

While there are still valid arguments being made to the contrary, the idea of getting the ‘superstar’ has appeared to dim over the last week in and around the media coverage surrounding the Bruins. I would like to discuss one particular sticking point; the idea that getting a big name defensemen now could help Boston in both the immediate and future seasons. Absolutely, that goes without question. However, be wary of such a simplistic analysis. I take issue with the idea that a move like that will result in a guy who’d become Zdeno Chara’s future replacement. Take this into account: Chara will undoubtedly resign after this season. There is no debate. He has stated he wishes to keep playing and doing so in a Boston uniform. The assumption is that he will be here two more seasons and within the next two years there are numerous opportunities to address his eventual replacement. Drafting a successor and/or developing current or future prospects is vital to the organizational process both while we have Chara, and after he retires. This is not even taking into account that his replacement very well could be playing next to him night after night right now. Charlie McAvoy’s contract extension has to be the priority of the offseason and it’s not even close. Resigning McAvoy to a long-term deal would cement this blue line for the next decade. At that point, drafting and developing his line-mate can be brought into the discussion. Something to consider is whether Brandon Carlo may or may not be here at that point, and his detractors would obviously prefer the later. I will state for the record: there is not a team in the NHL that wouldn’t play Carlo 17-20 minutes a night right now. Whether or not the Bruins view him as expendable remains to be seen, but for the moment Carlo is lined up to be a defensive fixture for the foreseeable future.

  Zdeno Chara On Patrice Bergeron’s Play, NHL Trade Deadline, Courtesy of NESN

The direction in which this team will go at the deadline is entirely speculation. The front office has redeemed themselves from initial mixed reviews just a year ago when they fire Claude Julien and did little to make waves in the offseason. We must now take a step back and put our trust in Don Sweeney and his staff. Trust includes that the Boston Bruins will ultimately take their best option at the deadline while understanding what put them in the position of being ‘buyers’ in the first place: patience, depth, and chemistry. Should the team decide to stay the course with what they have, and perhaps add depth for the playoff run, the fans have little to complain about. Things look positive for the present and future of the franchise, deadline splash or not.

 

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron And The Triple Fifty Line

 

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Patrice Bergeron #37 and Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins react in the first period against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 7, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins earned themselves another two points with a solid 5-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames Tuesday night.  Overall it was a great night for Bruins fans. The TD Garden hosted the legendary Don Cherry and members of the Bruins 1977-78 squad (the only team in NHL history to have 11 20-goal scorers).

The Bruins got on the board early, and they got on the board often. Once again, the Black and Gold came from behind to make life difficult for the opposing goalie. Riley Nash put in the first two goals of the night for the B’s, and B’s captain Zdeno Chara put in the empty-netter to seal the deal late for Boston.

But once again, the player of the game was B’s alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron scored the third and fourth goals of the game, putting the game out of reach and stealing the heat from the Flames.

Patrice Bergeron has been on fire these last few weeks. Since the start of 2018, the four-time Selke winner (and obvious first ballot into the Hockey Hall of Fame) has made NHL goalies his playthings by putting in 16 goals for the Black and Gold (including two hat tricks). Four of those goals were game-winners and he tallied an obscene 65 shots on goal.

So what does one of the hottest players currently in the National Hockey League think about being a one-man shooting gallery?

“I’m trying not to think about it,” said Bergeron with his usual honest humility. “I’m trying just to go out there, play, and stay focused…push myself to be better from one night to another and learn and watch video. Whenever it’s on the power play, [studying] my positioning and trying to find openings and things like that. To be honest with you, I’m trying to stay focused and be in the moment.”

Bergeron’s two goals helped him eclipse the 50-point plateau this season. Bergeron has hit this mark or higher every year for the last five seasons.  He’s the last of the Bruins top line to hit that mark. David Pastrnak crossed that line last week against the New York Rangers. Boston’s Little Ball of Hate Brad Marchand passed that mark in late January against the New Jersey Devils.

The Bruins top line has been one of the strongest lines in the entire league this season. It’s impossible to find a line in the league that has let in as few goals as they have. In his long career, Bergeron has been a remarkable leader and teacher to the rest of his line. He’s helped turn Marchand from a fourth-line grinder to an All-Star, and Pastrnak from a raw rookie to a future All-Star.

There’s also that small matter of putting Bergy’s name in the conversation for the Hart Trophy.

Look at the numbers Marchand and Bergeron have put up in their respective careers in Boston.  43 goals in 2010-11. 50 in 2011-12. 28 in 2012-13(but that’s because the owners wanted to stick it to the players and thus gave up half the season). The numbers are high and they stay high.

Now add in David Pastrnak and the numbers just get silly. 69 goals (10 of them game-winners) between the three of them. 156 points. 440 shots on goal and nobody on that line hits less than 14% of the time.  It’s as close to Bruins hockey perfection without mentioning the name ‘Orr’.

Patrice Bergeron is only 32. He still has five-plus years in the league. Marchand’s just 29. This power trio will be one of the dominant lines in the NHL until the mid-2020s.  Guess Bruins Nation owes a big debt of gratitude for Claude Julien for putting them together.

 

 

 

 

 

A Bruins’ Depth Dissection

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Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Much has been made in recent weeks about the Bruins’ supposed depth issues, and how they need to be addressed at the trade deadline. However, I believe that there is, in fact, a roster jam, the likes of which are quite difficult to manage. So, let’s figure this out.

The NHLers:

This group all belong in the NHL and have spent no time in the AHL this season. They are on 1-way contracts and are not waiver-exempt OR are on entry level contracts, and made the team out of training camp, but have yet to set foot in the AHL this season. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that their spot in the lineup cannot be touched.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Ryan Spooner
Tim Schaller Riley Nash David Backes
Noel Acciari

The Fringe:

Forwards:

Danton Heinen – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Anders Bjork – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently on IR

Sean Kuraly – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Peter Cehlarik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Frank Vatrano – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Austin Czarnik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Kenny Agostino –NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Jordan Szwarz – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Matt Beleskey – NHL Contract, Modified No-Trade Clause, Currently buried in Providence

Bruins Senators Hockey

Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand

According to the table above, there are four forward spots on this roster that are relatively in flux. Two of those are easy. Danton Heinen is 4th in team scoring and should be receiving legitimate Calder Trophy consideration. He’s on the team, no question. Sean Kuraly has been part of the best 4th line the Bruins have had since the famed Merlot Line with himself, Schaller, and Acciari. I don’t foresee him going anywhere. That then leaves two forward spots for the remaining 7 guys that have played in the NHL this season. I don’t see Beleskey being recalled anytime soon, especially with the injury trouble he’s run into down in Providence. Unfortunately, that contract has the appearance of a sunk cost right now. Agostino has already been up and down this season and has cleared waivers every time. Although he has been good for the Baby B’s, he hasn’t done nearly enough while with the big club to indicate that he should be the next guy up. The same can be said for Jordan Szwarz, who I have never been tremendously thrilled with at the pro level. Just like that, we’ve pared the list down to four guys and two spots to be filled.

Frank Vatrano, Jonathan Bernier

Photo Credit: Mark J. Temill

These two spots are not going to be regulars at the NHL level, and that’s important to understand. Of the four remaining, Cehlarik and Bjork are still on their entry-level contracts – this means they are waiver exempt and will be for the remainder of their contracts. Austin Czarnik can spend literally a single day more on an NHL roster before he becomes waiver eligible – indeed, he was recalled specifically for the games he played in his most recent stint and promptly sent back to Providence immediately afterward so as to prolong his waiver-exempt status. Frank Vatrano is the only one who isn’t waiver exempt – because he likely would be claimed the second he gets placed on waivers, he gets the nod despite being underneath Bjork and Cehlarik in the pecking order. I don’t think Vatrano fits as a 4th liner, and he isn’t consistent enough to play in the Top 6. Unfortunately, this pigeonholes him to the point where it would be beneficial for Boston to explore what the trade market looks like for him. It’s always preferable to get an asset in return for a player rather than simply losing them on waivers. So, Vatrano is (currently) the 13th forward.

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Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

Much like Vatrano doesn’t fit as a 4th liner, I don’t think it behooves the Bruins to stick Anders Bjork in the bottom six and to give him zero powerplay time. In Providence, he can gain some confidence, and be a go-to guy. Unfortunately, Heinen has become what they thought Bjork would be much more quickly that Bjork has been able to. He has also had a few injury issues. He should spend the rest of the year in Providence unless multiple Top 6 forwards end up unable to play or injured.

Cehlarik is a little more nuanced. Based on this analysis, he would be the 14th forward, but I prefer to have him playing on a regular basis, not sitting in the press box every 3 out 4 games. He also has had a lot of poor injury luck throughout his career, so I’d like to see him get through a full season healthy before he makes the jump full time.

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Steve Babineau

Defense:

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Kevan Miller

 

The Fringe:

Matt Grzelcyk – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Adam McQuaid – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 2 years remaining, Currently in Boston

Paul Postma – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 1 year remaining, Currently in Boston

Rob O’Gara – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

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Photo Credit: John Wilcox/Boston Herald

Now, there are only 4 d-men who have seen the light of day this year who I feel are battling for position on the roster. Matt Grzelcyk has spent the least amount of time at the NHL level, yet he has been far and away the best of the group. He has done more than enough to force the Bruins to keep him not only in the NHL for the duration of the season but in the lineup on a night to night basis. That makes him the 6th defenseman. McQuaid isn’t going anywhere on this roster despite my hesitation with such decisions, so that makes 7.

Now, if you’ve been keeping count, that leaves a single roster spot available between Paul Postma, Rob O’Gara, Austin Czarnik, and Peter Cehlarik. Cehlarik and O’Gara are waiver exempt – they have a place in Providence, so that’s where they will be. Czarnik retains his waiver exempt status as long as he remains in Providence, so unless something changes drastically, I doubt we see any more of him this season apart from the occasional emergency loan recall (which allows for a recall for a brief period of time without having to pass through waivers in either direction). Now, I cannot confirm nor deny that Paul Postma still exists, but he appears to be that 21st skater on this roster, as he would likely be lost if placed on waivers. So, the three scratches would be (in an ideal world) McQuaid, Postma, and Vatrano.

 

Hopefully, this has cleared this up for anyone confused to why there seems to be quite a bit of roster shuffling as of late. I also hope that people can see that the Bruins do not and SHOULD not have to add anything at the trade deadline. They have plenty of depth as it is.

 

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Quick Hit: Bruins Fall In Trap Game

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Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

By: Thomas Nystrom           Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom 

Saturday night we saw a much different Bruins team take the ice. Not in terms of personnel, but certainly in the way of effort and execution. Boston looked disjointed in every aspect of the game. The stick handling left much to be desired, the passing was lazy, and the shots didn’t find their mark with any level of consistency in comparison to what we’ve seen over the better part of the last two months. Tuukka Rask had a few misreads and blown saves, although the highlights will also show that he kept them in this game until the very end with a handful of unbelievable stops. Unfortunately his effort wasn’t enough to continue his outstanding point streak which ends at 21 games.

This game appears to be less about Rask’s off night and more about the overall lack of compete from a Boston squad fresh off a few days rest after an absolutely commanding road performance in their 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers.

The flip side of this article is undoubtedly being written in Buffalo as we speak, but here, the great things that the Sabres did tonight shouldn’t go without praise. The Buffalo Sabres entered TD Garden with purpose despite having very little to play for at this stage of their mostly disappointing 2017-2018 campaign. They were strong on the forecheck, broke up a number of high-probability scoring chances, and backup Goaltender Chad Johnson put together an outstanding if not unexpected 60 minute effort in net. Ryan O’Reilly centered a Buffalo line that tonight played Bergeron/Marchand/Pastrnak with intensity and fearlessness arguably more-so than any other offensive pairing since November. Mind you, Buffalo’s best weapon and Massachusetts’ own Jack Eichel was knocked out of the game with under 7 minutes left in the first on an ugly looking collision where he came down awkwardly with his leg pinned beneath him.

Positive spin: I would like to state for the record that in no way do I believe the Sabres just laid out the blueprint for how to contain the monster that has been the Boston Bruins over the better part of the season. This was a ‘trap game’ if there ever was one. The seemingly easier contest of the back to back this weekend didn’t go as planned, but in many ways was half-heartedly forecasted. The ‘trap’ is not a myth folks and tonight was exhibit A.

The Boston Bruins travel to Newark, New Jersey tomorrow to take on the (27-19-8) Devils, whom are coming off their own 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Columbus on Sunday. I foresee a physical, perhaps desperate level of effort from both teams looking to quickly right the ship. Face off at 7:00pm. See you then.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins Win Back-To-Back Games On The Road

(Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

By Mike Cratty                                                           Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

To say the Boston Bruins are rolling is an understatement. After winning 18 of their last 23 games, the Bruins are continuing to show they are a bonafide threat in the NHL. To put things in perspective a little more, they are in the second place in the NHL and the Atlantic division.

They have plenty of skill, but it’s not always flashiness that wins games. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it yet again, they find different ways to win by wearing teams down. Their scoring attack has become so balanced and their team defense has risen to become the NHL’s best. Not to mention Tuukka Rask has played better than any other goalie in the NHL since late November. Anton Khudobin has continued to back Tuukka up sufficiently during that time period, which never hurts.

Following a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last Saturday, a back-to-back against two Eastern Conference foes, the Detroit Red Wings, and the New York Rangers lied ahead. Being two struggling teams, the Bruins took advantage of their deficiencies enough to win both games. Their record now stands at 33-11-8, with 74 points.

Tuukka Rask started in Detroit, in a game where Austin Czarnik and Torey Krug were in familiar territory. A 3-2 victory came out of it in a game where the excitement was saved mainly for the later portion. Two rookies, in particular, shined in Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly, who both picked up a goal and an assist. David Krejci tallied the other goal, his 10th of the season.

Things almost got out of hand when Wings forward Frans Nielsen made it 3-2 off a rebound with 1:24 remaining in the third period. Luckily the Bruins held on for the win after Charlie McAvoy pinned the puck in the corner after what went on to be the final faceoff.

It’ll be tough for teams like the Red Wings and the Panthers to make up much ground in the Atlantic, seeing as there is currently a 17-point gap between the third and fourth place teams, in Toronto and Florida. The Bruins made it a little tougher and made things a bit more interesting for themselves, setting up for an important contest at Madison Square Garden the next night.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning dropping five of their last 10 games, now is a great time for a leapfrog attempt into first place in the Atlantic, and possibly the NHL, for the Bruins. Their 6-1 throttling of the struggling New York Rangers will help out with that. After an early goal from Rick Nash to make it 1-0, the Bruins woke up and potted six unanswered goals, eventually chasing Henrik Lundqvist from the crease. There is one point separating the Bruins and the Lightning and first place.

Tim Schaller, or Pavel Datsyuk? You tell me. One of the highlights of the night and honestly the season. The New Hampshire native, former Providence Friar, and fourth-liner, Tim Schaller, undresses Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith and puts in an off-balance beauty.

The other five goals on the night came from Patrice Bergeron, who had two, building on his case for the Hart Trophy, Zdeno Chara, Riley Nash, and Sean Kuraly. Sean Kuraly is getting his offensive game going a little bit over the past two games, which is never a bad thing to see from a fourth-liner. Anton Khudobin made 21 saves in net, partly thanks to the defense flustering the Rangers offense for the good majority of the game.

63+37=100. Marchand picked up a lone assist on this goal after returning from his five-game suspension. Shorthanded goals like that shouldn’t be allowed.

The Bruins get some rest before taking on the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden, followed by the New Jersey Devils on the road in the Prudential Center, the next day. Who doesn’t love back-to-back weekend games? As long as the Bruins keep the tempo up, they’ll be hard to play against and make teams have to fight for two points. No one is making it hard to do so in the NHL right now than the Bruins.