SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED. It all started with a moving tribute to two veterans of the 2nd World War from the Boston area. Read/watch about that here.
Things didn’t start super great for Boston. They seemed clearly uneven with how awkward, young and un-deep the forward lineup they iced were. And early on the Wild took advantage of this with Nino Neiderreiter taking advantage of the O’Gara-Miller pairing having a major communication breakdown and just hacking away at the puck in front of Rask until it went in. 1-0 Wild.
I will not complain about how Kevan still hasn’t figured this out after three years I will not complain about how Kevan still hasn’t figured this out after three years I will not complain about how Kevan still hasn’t figured this out after three years I wil-
Regardless, this seemed to spark something in Boston. Clearly they couldn’t spend any time in their own end anymore. Bringing the speed, the physicality, and the chances to the Wild. And when you start bringing those to a team whose issues with funny bounces are well documented, well...funny things can happen.
Namely, Jake DeBrusk scoring off of absolute silliness. 1-1 Tie!
Luck is a powerful thing. Jake DeBrusk is a good, fast, and annoying player to try and stop. Jake DeBrusk being lucky is nothing short of a nightmare for opposing teams.
A little under two minutes later, as Boston began revving the engine of destruction that would end up dominating the Wild in the 2nd period, Frank Vatrano finally snapped out of whatever malaise he’s been in for the past 20+ games and found himself a goal with another very silly bounce on Devan Dubnyk: Off the crossbar, off the back of his pad, and into the net. 2-1 Bruins!
Little did Devan Dubnyk know, this was only the beginning.
Oh yes...this was only the beginning of the most miserable 25ish minutes of hockey he’d have playing in front of him by Minnesota.
But that’s for the next period.
2nd Period, where Boston ran Minnesota out of the building:
The Wild just got lapped, man.
They got outskated, they got outpassed, they got held to three shot attempts over 20 minutes...they got pantsed in front of everyone in TD Garden.
And it was awesome.
It started 5 minutes in with the Kuraly line just screwing with the Wild in their own end, getting the puck, flying up the ice, and every forward getting a shot directly in front of Dubnyk, and it was none other than Jumpin’ Sean Kuraly who potted home the goal, bringing the score to 3-1 Bruins!
And then two minutes later, Torey Krug, whose had his share of ups and downs in this game, got fed a primo pass from David Pastrnak and he just blasted that thing. Dubnyk didn’t have a prayer. 4-1 Bruins!
Interestingly, Krug started the play that got the goal with a well timed poke check. Good on him!
And as previously mentioned, the Wild just looked gassed and defeated and unhappy and they just wanted to go home.
...But the third period awaited. And boy did that bring the mood down a bit.
Minnesota decided that they wanted to play hockey, now that they had Alex Stalock in net.
An absolutely miserable pass from good czech son David Pastrnak a minute and a half into the period got the puck to Matt Dumba who played it across to Mikhail Grandlund, who buried it with a one-timer. 4-2 Boston lead.
Again, we’ll get into this by the game notes, but the real tragedy of this play is that Krug actually did the right thing on this play after a number of pretty boneheaded ones...and nobody else on the ice seemed willing to humor him.
Definitely not helping things is that things got sloppy for more than a few minutes, and in pulling a player down to stop another breakout (again, we’ll get to that), the Bruins gave the Wild an opportunity with a Penalty Shot. Thankfully, Tuukka Rask was up to the occasion.
Just a solid blocker save that would be a huge moment as the game went on.
Things didn’t get much better as Boston pressed the advantage again, got a power play and...
...As they enter the zone, Bergeron flicks the puck over to Pastrnak, who loses it, Jason Zucker springs Eric Staal for the 2nd shorthanded goal Boston has given up all season. 4-3 Bruins.
Krug and Pasta...not exactly their best game in decision-making or backchecking. And somehow both still got a point off of each other tonight. Hockey is a confusing sport.
The Wild, now kind of desperate to get that tying goal, began attacking the B’s with everything they had, pulling Stalock...and the Bruins capitalized with Tim Schaller both poking the puck into open ice, beating the Minnesota player...and sending that baby home and finishing the game out 5-3 with less than a minute left to play!
Southern NH: Just a bastion of NHL caliber talent.
The clock wound down, and Boston hung on to beat the Wild at home, something they’ve had trouble doing in the past. Their next game is on Wednesday night, versus the New York Rangers at 7pm.
- Your leaders in possession tonight were Frank Vatrano, Rob O’Gara, Jordan Szwarz, Charlie McAvoy, and Tim Schaller. This is relative however, as all but three players were well above even in CF%.
- For a lineup as decimated and for one with so many in-betweeners as regular roster members for the forseeable future, it’s encouraging to know these guys can bring the jump and the tenacity required to play in the NHL. Even AHL Regulars like Jordan Szwarz had a big night, with two assists.
- Good on Frank Vatrano to finally break his scoring slump. Now, let’s see if he can do it long-term!
- The Kuraly line as it stands (Schaller, Kuraly, and Heinen) is a sneaky good set of forwards in the bottom six. Keep an eye on them.
- Of course, when the vast majority of the team is doing so well, it only stands to reason that the players who aren’t get rightfully called out. Even if he had a goal, and a good one at that, and had flashes of brilliance throughout the night...Torey Krug’s decision-making and timing are still very much off what we want them to be. At least two of the three Wild goals were in some way a product of something he did, and that does include the penalty shot.
- Speaking of which, while Rask didn’t exactly light up the night with his SV%, he got his saves where it counted. Especially during that Penalty shot. Had Granlund gotten that, there’s no telling how OT or the SO would’ve gone.
- This of course, leads me to another, much bigger concern I have regarding Boston’s defensive play as a whole: Breakaways. Boston’s giving up way too many. Whether because of a badly timed pinch, a giveaway, or just being caught up ice, the B’s are making it very hard on themselves to keep leads if they’re going to continue to make it easy for the opponent to get scoring chances.
- Pastrnak is very good and still getting points which makes it all the more frustrating when he gives the puck away leading to a SOG, a breakout, or a goal. Even the good youth still has some of the boneheadedness of youth in them, it seems.
- Matt Beleskey fought a dude. That was neat, I guess.
- Oh, and while I’m here? Boston’s fine on the physicality front. That narrative that’s been brewing died a death tonight. They have a 19 year old who can casually wipe out players much larger than him and the vast majority of their scorers both kept pace with the Wild and also out-muscled them to pucks frequently just by being fast, focused, and determined.
See you Wednesday, and keep checking back for our non-gameday content!