It was an exciting afternoon in Boston. Between the player introductions, to the ceremonial puck drop, and all of the way to the last whistle, the Garden was buzzing. Capped off by Dirty Water, a song by The Standells that plays after every home win at Fenway Park, it was a perfect afternoon for Boston sports fans.
Chris Wagner, who signed as a free agent with the Bruins this summer, scored his first goal as a Bruin midway through the second. The Walpole, MA native should have been the story of the afternoon, but Patrice Bergeron stole it away from him with three goals and assist.
The alternate captain has six points on the Bruins ten goals in the opening three games of the season. Simply put by Bruce Cassidy after the game, “I’ve been impressed with everything Bergy does.” But with the Bruins relying so much on the top line with Bergeron and Pastrnak combining for seven of the first ten goals of the season, the thought of breaking up the top line still trickles into Bruce Cassidy’s mind. He didn’t give a definitive answer when asked, but did acknowledge the Bruins are a top-heavy team.
Coach Cassidy also mentioned that he liked “a couple” lines, including the fourth line. He prefers Acciari on the wing as he is, “More freed up to be on top of pucks and be more physical.” He also mentioned how Sean Kuraly feels more comfortable on that line with Wagner and Acciari, but doesn’t rule out Kuraly moving back up in the future.
With Cassidy praising the first and fourth lines, that may mean he is still not satisfied with the middle-six. Jake DeBrusk has had a fabulous start to the season in terms of controlling play and outshooting opponents. He did that again today. It seems as though Cassidy isn’t quite satisfied with the play of Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen. The third line has been the weakest line in each of the first three games in terms of outshooting their opponents. Much of the third line’s time on ice was spent in their own end, at least relative to the rest of the team.
As Bruce Cassidy also acknowledged, they young wingers are getting better. They look up to David Pastrnak as he transforms his game to cover the whole 200 feet of ice. Their reads in the defensive zone are improving, although cost the Bruins a goal (Donato).
However, what the data can’t capture is the second goal for Ottawa. Bruce Cassidy called the Bergeron line for a defensive zone faceoff before having a chat with Bjork about his last shift. Unfortunately, David Pastrnak didn’t hear his coach. Just prior to the puck being dropped, the Bruins noticed they only had four skaters on the ice. Bruins players started to yell “Pasta”, but it was too late. By the time he got into the play, the puck was in the back of the net.
All in all, it was a pretty good game for the Bruins. They controlled play, stayed out of the box, and their best players stepped up. The team has come a long way since Wednesday night in Washington. They are not quite where they want to be, but they are looking like a team that can contend for a cup.