By: Joe Todd | Follow me on Twitter @heyjoetodd
The Bruins faced off in game number 929 all-time versus their historic rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Bruins have now won 5 straight versus the Habs, with their previous 5-2 win against the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge on November 14th, 2021. This was the Canadien’s first game since January 1st after having 16 players on the COVID protocol list. Linus Ullmark won his third straight start for the first time in Black N’ Gold. Bruins are now 6 – 1 since the calendar turned to 2022. Even with a team full of AHL’ers, it was still another chippy affair to ensure the hatred among these two teams. Marchand led the way with a hat trick, including a shorthanded goal, and Lazar scored two off of various body parts.
DeBrusk returns to the lineup
DeBrusk made his return to the lineup after being placed in COVID protocol. Early in the first, he tried to pass to McAvoy at the right point, but the result was a pass to nobody at the 14-minute mark of the game, where the third line had tremendous pressure in the offensive zone. Steen would later make a great pass to DeBrusk in front of the net, which he just missed scoring on. That same shift, he got the puck in the defensive zone, made a great individual rush to gain the line, and start the forecheck. A few seconds later, he takes the Grzelyck feed and fires a nice shot with a purpose to the front of the net for a tap-in for Lazar. DeBrusk would later come inches away from scoring in his return, but Montembeault made an excellent pad stop in the third.
Overall, I thought the third line as a whole played well. I enjoy seeing Coyle command the offensive zone when he uses his body to protect the puck. While I am fascinated by the potential of DeBrusk – Coyle – Steen, I know it won’t last long. Whenever DeBrusk gets traded, I hope it’s for a more cerebral type player (example: Marcus Johansson) to play with Coyle. Steen and Coyle both could benefit from a creative player to enhance their puck possession.
112 > 188?
Does anyone enjoy the Marchand – Bergeron – Smith line MORE than the “Perfection Line”? The new line with Smith reminds me of the Marchand – Bergeron – Recchi line that worked so well in 2011. Smith gives that line an extra body that works just as hard on the defensive side of the puck. That’s not intended to be a knock-on Pastrnak, but you can really see Smith forecheck and battle along the boards a lot harder when paired next to 63 + 37. I might have to do a deeper dive into this line in the near future. Smith’s high and wide shot off the end boards resulted in a funky bounce and a primary assist on Marchand’s second. Smith’s willingness to get open and shoot continues to benefit the first line.
To Blidh or not to Blidh?
A hard forecheck (and maybe a minor penalty) by Anton Blidh against Jeff Petry led to the Bruins first powerplay of the game. Blidh appeared to hit Petry a little high and from behind (in this writer’s opinion), leading to his arm being tangled around Petry’s head and removing his helmet. Clearly frustrated with the non-call, Petry played the puck helmetless resulting in a two-minute minor. Blidh continues to bring a pestering game and plays like this show what a pain in the ass he is becoming for the opposition. With five hits on the night, not only does he play a hard-nosed game, but he is now on a three-game point streak with a goal and three assists. Once Trent Frederic is healthy again, it will be interesting to see who Cassidy continues to play.
Todd’s and Ends
Tuukka Rask looked great in his return to the lineup, playing a solid 00:00 of ice time. Opened the most doors per 60 minutes of play. Maybe had a couple of Bud Lights between intermission? Who knows.
What a pass by Tomas Nosek in his return to the lineup to feed Marchand’s first goal. Could he be an early candidate for the 7th player award?
Bergeron has 12 penalty minutes in his past four games and has been penalized in four straight. He hasn’t had a stretch like this since the 2017-2018 season. Good thing he’s going for his fifth Selke and not his first Lady Byng.
Great awareness from Moore to join the rush and get a rebound off a hard shot for Marchand’s shorthanded goal. If anything, I hope these few games show other teams that Moore is still a serviceable defenseman and makes trading for him an easier decision despite his contract (I had this written one shift before he went to the room and did not return after the Pezzetta goal…my bad).
I don’t want to be a downer here, but I HATED the “We Want Tuukka” chant. Look, I am excited he’s back and can’t wait for tomorrow’s game. BUT, Ullmark has won three straight games, stopped 25/26 tonight, AND has had to deal with fans wanting him to be traded so Swayman can stay in the lineup. I think he deserves a little more respect than that.
What do you think, Bruins fans? Let’s get some discussion going in the comments. Looking forward to Tuukka time tomorrow!