While it might have looked promising (for this game) to see the Rangers at the bottom of their division, they’re in fact nipping at the heels of Philadelphia and Columbus, who hold the two Wild Card spots in the East. The Bruins, meanwhile, hope to solidify their spot in the top three in the Atlantic, and a win would bring them within one point of the East’s top team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The NBC crew started referring to the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak as the Nitro Line, which harkens back to the days of Phil Esposito. No thanks, guys - but, in seriousness, doesn’t that line need a kickass name?
Jack DeBrusk came out firing, whizzing a quick wrist shot past Lundqvist in the early minutes while his linemates manned the boards.
Adam McQuaid and Cody McLeod dropped the gloves early, to much fanfare but little in the way of fisticuffs. It so happens that McLeod was the last person McQuaid fought, back in October when McLeod was still with the Nashville Predators.
WannabeaNash Rick took advantage of a bouncing puck that hopped past Chara into the Bruins zone, where he had all the time and space to walk into the slot and fire home a wrist shot. 1-0, Rangers.
Not to be upstaged, Our Own Nash of the Riley Variety benefited from a great play by Danton Heinen and a rebound-to-pass by David Backes, who dished it to Riley at the top of the crease. 1-1 game!
Anton Khudobin must have warmed up well, as he was able to stone the Rangers on several chances in close around the halfway mark. Outstanding saves from all over the place.
With some more push by the Rangers, it started to look like the B’s were going to trail heading into the intermission. However, with under five minutes to go in the period, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner put together a yeoman’s effort to hem the Rangers’ defense behind Lundqvist. As their forwards collapsed towards the net to help, the B’s cycled the puck out to Chara who found the twine with a top-shelf wrister through a wide-open lane. 2-1, Bruins!
The period wound down with some more pressure from the Rangers, and a rare pin-in on the Bergeron line, but they escaped any damage.
Dobby had to be sharp right out of the gate in this frame as well, as Rangers forwards Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello put unchallenged shots on net only to be turned aside by Anton.
Patrice Bergeron took a short pass from David Pastrnak while crossing the attacking blue line, and managed to sneak a wobbly wrister through Lundqvist. 3-1, Bruins! Still 16 minutes left in the period.
Just a few minutes later, Tim Schaller channeled his inner Pasta and deked out Anthony DeAngelo before knocking a snapshot from in close past the blocker of Lundqvist, chasing the goalie from the game. 4-1, Boston. Not yet at the halfway point.
Power play offerings to the Bruins at this point in the game are just a terrible idea. Oh, wait, the Rangers got the power play? Oh, whatever. Patrice doesn’t care. 5-1, Bruins, on a shortie and a sweet feed from long lost linemate Marchand.
The rest of the period sort of just floated by, as the entire team looked to be riding high. A late power play for the Bruins (for real, this time) yielded little but helped to seal the period and send the teams to the locker room.
Jesper Fast took an early penalty, giving the Bruins the power play; no yield. The period balanced out after a few minutes, and for a moment I thought the Bruins were going into Claude-Turtle Mode to protect a big lead and conserve energy. Then, out of nowhere, Marchand got a breakaway chance and fooled Pavelec by getting it stuck under his pad; then, he and Pastrnak had aNOTHER golden opportunity. The renewed energy from the B’s carried through to the next line’s shift and Kuraly was the benefactor, whipping a wrist shot through Pavelec. 6. TO. ONE.
Another fight between McLeod and McQuaid - the latter defending Grzelcyk’s honor after the former laid a heavy hit on the young defenseman - would essentially seal it.
- Karma struck Brad Marchand in this game, ringing three posts and hitting Pastrnak in the butt-tocks for four total coulda-been-goals. Don’t test karma, Bradley, the refs aren’t the only thing watching you closely now. THE UNIVERSE, Bradley!
- Before I get to this next one, several head nods directed in Khudobin’s direction. Now that Rask is hot and has relegated Dobby to the bench more nights than not, he’s stayed sharp and battles hard for his saves. It looks like the goalies are on the same page.
- Must. Rewatch. Tim. Schaller. Goal.
- The stats show a much more evenly-played game - including the truth that Rangers having the shot attempts lead for the bulk of the first period and the start of the second. After the Bruins caught up from the early Rangers shot-flurries, the roles reversed, but the Bruins didn’t run away with control of the game.
- Though there were a couple ‘veteran’ goals - Bergie’s goals were assisted by Krug, Pasta, Chara and Marchand - the youth absolutely factored into the scoresheet. Grzelcyk had two assists, and Heinen, DeBrusk and Czarnik each had one. DeBrusk’s tenacious forecheck and Heinen’s steal led directly to goals - they’re not capitalizing on mistakes, they’re creating turnovers. This bodes very well for the both of them, and not just ‘in the future’ - they’re making these kinds of plays on a semi-regular basis.
- Boston has all but erased Tampa Bay’s lead on the Atlantic division, as they now sit one point behind the Lightning with a game in hand on all but four teams in the East, the Lightning not included. The Bolts play Vancouver tonight and the LA Kings on Saturday, the same day that Boston welcomes Buffalo to TD Garden.
Sunday morning’s standings may tell a very different story.