By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Don’t look now, but the Boston Bruins are winners of their last four consecutive games, extending that win-streak after a solid 6-3 win at home against the Washington Capitals. The win gave the Bruins a brief six-point lead on the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division, but with the Rangers’ win over New Jersey later in the day, that lead was once again reduced to four points. Regardless, the Bruins avenged themselves from last week’s blowout loss to the Capitals and picked up two important points.
Going by the numbers, the Bruins were outplayed by Washington in this one. While the margins weren’t massive and the second period was essentially equal, the Bruins were on paper the worse team. It is the opposite as last week as the B’s were the better statistical team, but fell short by an 8-1 landslide. Bruins weren’t ever dominated by Washington and didn’t let any momentum that the Caps built continue for very long.
A lot of offence was generated down-low and in front of Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanacek. A definite change of pace from a Bruins team that saw very few chances from the slot area and the majority of shot attempts coming from the outside and the blueline. A more aggressive and harder-forechecking team is getting chances in more high-danger spots on the ice.
In this section, we give each player a grade for their play in this particular game. The grades are more art than science. The game scores below are one part of the equation giving us an objective measure to start with, though it doesn’t always tell you the true picture of an individual game. Hockey is a game of process and moments. Over the long haul, the process should win out but at a game-by-game level, moments matter. Both will be considered before assigning a grade to each player. Our expectations for each player will also be a factor.
Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments or on Twitter but keep the name-calling to a minimum.
Brad Marchand (A+) – Brad Marchand was all over the ice tonight and it paid off with two goals and two helpers on the statsheet. Marchand directly caused a turnover on an early Bruins penalty-kill and kept a heavy shorthanded forecheck that led to a Patrice Bergeron goal to open the scoring. It’s no secret that when Marchand is on fire, he is always dangerous and right now – he’s on fire.
Patrice Bergeron (A+) – The captain scored the game’s opening goal while shorthanded, but also scored the insurance goal to give the Bruins a two-goal advantage late in the second period that basically put the game to bed and also chipped in an assist on one of Marchand’s tallies. Bergeron went 60% on the faceoff dot and had the third-highest xGF% at 74.05%. Bergeron also scored the 21,000th goal in Bruins franchise history, which is a pretty amazing stat.
David Pastrnak (A+) – It’s hard for me to not give all three members of this Bruins first line an A+ grade because they were just on tonight. Pastrnak didn’t score like his fellow linemates did, but he chipped in three assists including a valiant effort on Marchand’s empty-net strike – diving with his stick to poke the puck out of the zone, causing Marchand to have an easy lane to the open cage. Bruins need these guys to be on their game and they were tonight.
Jeremy Lauzon (A) – Lauzon had one of his best games in a while today. While on the ice for three goals-for, he was on the ice for zero goals-against and played an impressive six-plus minutes on the penalty-kill, making big clears when available. He also recorded a team-high eight hits, something the Bruins need on the backend especially considering Lauzon’s 6-foot-1, 204-pound frame.
David Krejci (A) – Ah, to have a second line. David Krejci was on the scoresheet a couple times in this one – no, not with his playmaking, but with his goals. Krejci potted two goals in this one including the one that would eventual be the game-winner in the second period. Krejci showed phenomenal patience to toe-drag around a sliding defender and roof it past Vanacek. Very solid game for the Czech.
Craig Smith, Taylor Hall (A) – David Krejci had a good game and so did his linemates – Craig Smith and Taylor Hall. Hall finished the day with an assist while Smith had two, but the line as a whole was generating plays, playing solid defense and putting pucks to the net. Aside from Bergeron (9) and Marchand (5), Smith and Hall had the most shot attempts on Sunday with four.
Connor Clifton (B) – In a season where ‘Cliffy Hockey’ has not been excellent, today was not terrible. He got the primary assist on Krejci’s first of the game and was on the ice for ten shots for while having the best CF% at 5v5 (62.50%). However, Clifton took not one, but two double-minors – the second one led to two goals by the Capitals less than five minutes into the second frame. Not disciplined enough, but other than that, not a bad outing.
Tuukka Rask (B) – Rask, not far removed from an injury that forced him to miss some time, played a decent game today. Stopping 30 of 33 shots that he faced including a few breakaway bids and rebounds. However, his glove seemed a bit off as he was having some issues grabbing the pucks, leading to rebounds tight in front of the net. One of those misplays led to Oshie’s first of two goals on the day. Regardless, though, Rask got the job done.
Charlie McAvoy (B) – McAvoy was second on the team in both ice-time and penalty-kill time, recorded two hits and was on the ice for three goals for. However, on the Capitals’ first goal of the game, McAvoy got undressed by Nicklas Backstrom who ended up getting a clear shooting lane – giving a rebound for TJ Oshie who did not miss. Tough break for a defenceman who rarely gets beat that way, but it happens even to the best of them.
Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Curtis Lazar (B-) – Solid game for the revamped fourth line. Good forecheck and Lazar nearly buried a chance but rang off the bar. Lazar was second on the team with four hits while Kuraly (2) and Wagner (1) chipped in on the physicality as well.
Mike Reilly (C) – One of the three newest Bruins to join the team at the Trade Deadline, Reilly has been a solid addition to the backend. However, there were a few times where his zone pinches were the wrong move and led to odd-man rushes the other way. Reilly only had two shot attempts in this one as well, something we aren’t used to being that low.
Jarred Tinordi, Steven Kampfer (C) – According to MoneyPuck.com, this pairing played the most minutes at 5v5 (9:39) of all the pairings we saw in this game. While saying that, they also had the most shot attempts against with 11 and only had four shot attempts for. Tinordi did leave the game after taking a hit into the boards from Garnet Hathaway, but he still played the majority of the night.
Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk (C) – In all honesty, these three weren’t as visible as you might like in a six-goal team performance. The line as a whole had a mere three shot attempts while 5v5 and had six shot attempts against them. Not a very impactful game by any means.
Moment of the Night:
That’s a lot of goals.