WOW, what an entertaining game this turned out to be. You could be tempted to call this a rout by the Bruins - and, in some ways, it was, such as on the scoreboard - but it wasn’t simply a hot-vs-not lopsided win. Boston played well - especially their depth - and exploited a few Senators weaknesses in the process.
Let’s get started.
Danton Heinen struggled to get the puck out of the defensive zone on his first shift, and it may have been his only down shift of the night. Ottawa managed to slide a puck through the crease - in the wrong direction. Charlie McAvoy got away with a high-stick while checking an Ottawa player. Life went on.
Kevan Miller netted his first goal of the year, one-timing an atrocious rebound off a tough-angle shot by David Backes. 1-0, Bruins!
Kevan Miller off of the rebound scores his first of the year to put the Bruins up 1 roughly 5 minutes into the firsthttps://t.co/88AN02eLC6— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
Zone-time advantage for the B’s began leading to more and more shot attempts, as they were clearly taking the ‘shoot early, shoot often’ approach. Their transition game made quick work of flipping turnovers back in their favor, and off one of these, Matt Grzelcyk found Ryan Spooner on the cross-ice neutral zone pass, who then froze Fredrik Claesson, accelerated, and from below the goal line laid a beautiful drop-pass to Danton Heinen as he crashed the crease. 2-0, Bruins!
Spooner burns around Claesson and finds Heinen for the easy tap in in front to double the Bruins leadhttps://t.co/72LEsMaO8T— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
Matt Duchene got a bit irritated and took a slashing penalty; there was almost too much puck cycling by Boston’s PP unit at first, though they did manage five shot attempts.
A nasty hit by Claesson sent Noel Acciari to the dressing room. One would hope that he also went through concussion protocol and cleared, as that is not a gentle hit. Tim Schaller challenged and earned a ‘win’, along with a 2-minute instigator, a 5-for-fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct for Schaller, while Claesson earned 5 minutes for the hit to Acciari’s head, 5 for fighting and a 10-minute game misconduct, resulting in his ejection. Play resumed at 4-on-4 for two minutes, and the 3-minute power play for the Bruins that followed would take us to the intermission without much fanfare, other than Heinen ringing the crossbar.
An early goal by Riley Nash would appear to tip this game, as he blocked a shot by Erik Karlsson and then beat Karlsson to his own net. THAT RARELY HAPPENS - and Nash knows it, according to himself postgame. 3-0, Bruins!
Riley Nash with the block, then turns on the burners to stay ahead of Karlsson, then wires a shot past Andersonhttps://t.co/nxWG2KzuxT— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
ABout two minutes later, Thomas Chabot would chip into the B’s lead, one-timing a slow pass past Tuukka. 3-1, B’s still in the lead.
Chabot with the one timed bomb from the top of the circle cuts the Bruins lead back to 2, 3-1 Bruinshttps://t.co/9C7kvXRDqt— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
The middle of this period was a series of dumps, chases, and icings. Around the midway point, Boston nearly took advantage of an offensive-zone faceoff but Pasta just barely missed the net. Scoring wizard Kevan laid out Tom Pyatt, a TOTAL surprise. Heinen had an outstanding series of backchecks and made the smart play by dumping it into David Backes’ corner to burn some clock.
Anders Bjork, not wanting to miss out on the fun, picked Dion Phaneuf’s pocket and left a tidy backhand in front of a streaking Nash. RiElite Nash carried the puck to the doorstep, out-waited Anderson, and tucked home a backhand around the goalie’s outstretched pad. 4-1, Bruins!
Bjork with the steal, feeds Nash who catches Anderson leaning looking pass. All Riley Nash knows how to do is score goals. 4-1 Bruinshttps://t.co/cp12M9bxDS— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
Patrice Bergeron took a penalty late in the period, and the bruins would kill it off, sending us to the third.
If anything could be taken from the first five minutes of this period, it would be that the Bruins’ youth got the backchecking message, as DeBrusk, Bjork, and Kuraly all were able to disrupt otherwise-clean zone entries by Ottawa. Save for one passing sequence around the point, they couldn’t hold the puck in the Bruins’ zone for longer than a few seconds. On the opposite side, the Bruins were content for some stretches by wrapping the puck around the offensive boards to play keep-away, but it was not a placid ‘sit on your heels’ period. If it was anywhere other than in the Bruins’ possession, they hunted it down. Heinen. Spooner. Bjork. Jake DeBrusk, whose name is surprisingly absent on the scoresheet given his play. Everyone had a hand in closing out this game, and how fitting it was that Grzelcyk would set up the nail for Backes. 5-1, Bruins, with under two minutes to play.
Backes plays Grzelyck's wide shot perfectly, while Anderson cant hold the post. 5-1 Bruins, and thatll do ithttps://t.co/G4s7IOsXEh— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) December 28, 2017
- Tuukka Rask is on form. He may not have seen many shots tonight but Ottawa did make some solid efforts in the third that warranted his undivided attention, and he gave it.
- Kevan Miller played a solid if not spectacular game. Goal-scoring and his usual sandpaper aside, he has been relatively unnoticed - which is good for your third defensive pair. Tonight in particular, he and Grzelcyk were able to eat into captain Zdeno Chara’s minutes, rest that will help to sustain the team for the rest of the regular season. (McAvoy was not so lucky, and still neared 22 minutes. Krug, Carlo and Grzelcyk each nearly had 20.)
- Despite missing the scoreboard, the first line were not passengers - and didn’t get the same consideration from the coaching staff on minute-reduction as Chara. They were adept at their intangibles, pushing the puck out of the Bruins zone and generating some chances. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak totaled 5 of 23 Bruins shots. That doubles if you include shot attempts that Ottawa blocked.
- It may be time for coach Bruce Cassidy to try and balance the lineup a bit more evenly as the season rolls along, both for the young players’ experience and the veterans’ rest. It’ll depend on the opponent for sure, but it has been paying off on the ice lately.