A wonderful tribute to Jaroslav Halak for playing 500 games in the NHL happened before puck drop. Congrats, Jaro! We hope they sent you someplace nice!
OK, hockey time.
This game started off pretty aggressive, in terms of pace. There were a couple moments where we thought Tuukka Rask was left all alone; fortunately, his friend The Post bailed him out once, and Calgary’s general ineptitude at sustaining offensive pressure did the rest of the favors.
Maybe (or maybe not) worth noting, but around five minutes in, Milan Lucic tried to clear his own zone, only to have his pocket picked by Charlie Coyle and then he got stood up at his blue line by Brandon Carlo. Lucic might be heavier, but tall walls are still walls.
For the second slate of five minutes, Boston’s top line absolutely ran circles around Calgary. Brad Marchand drew an interference call, and the Flames took a penalty and the B’s vaunted power play unit resumed its duties. Charlie Coyle played a great net-front role but the Bruins were unable to convert, and the advantage went for naught.
With less than nine minutes left, the B’s gave up some serious possession advantage in their own zone. The revamped line of Anders Bjork - Charlie Coyle - Nick Ritchie gave up the goal, as a point shot found the back wall and a good bounce. Matt Tkachuk slammed in the rebound from the bottom of the circle to give the Flames the 1-0 lead.
Brad Marchand took a penalty in the last five minutes, so it was difficult to see Boston getting out of any trouble.
Tough start for Tuukka. Zdeno Chara got beat around the outside, and Rask was able to hold the left post; then, again, the B’s defense got beat around the outside and he had to keep the shallow angle cut off. Worse for wear, Chara also had to hobble his way to the bench, but it looked like more of a stinger than anything else. He would return for the next shift, uninhibited.
The puck would just not settle for the B’s in the attacking zone. Every pass hopped over a stick. Meanwhile, every shift for the Flames seemed to result in a solid scoring chance, or at the very least an unblocked shot on net.
It would take a good ten minutes of clock-time before Boston was able to pull their heads out of their asses. Just in time for a penalty, eh? Karson Kuhlman slashed a Flame, real close to the hands and definitely in the danger zone.
Fortunately, Marchand received a quality pass in the neutral zone and evaded the Flames defender, sniping a shortie to tie the game.
A few minutes later, his linemate Pastrnak went to confront the Flames’ possession along his sidewall, but Brandon Carlo also went to the same spot, and left Sean Monahan alone in the slot. He did not miss.
Then, another power play gave the Flames all the space in the world, and a good deflection (again from Monahan) found its way past Rask. Just CANNOT keep giving them these kinds of openings, Bruins!!!
The middle frame just looked awful from the Bruins’ perspective. Sure, a tying goal is helpful, but not when you leave all kinds of open space for tips ‘n tricks.
Minimal action to define. Many turnovers. Boston couldn’t sustain any sort of pressure beyond some corner battles by newcomer Nick Ritchie and Kuraly on consecutive shifts.
After about half the frame was gone, Ritchie got bumped up to play with Krejci and Kuhlman, so it looks like DeBrusk slinked his way back into Cassidy’s doghouse.
A bit of excitement in the latter half, when Calgary goalie David Rittitch came out to pokecheck somebody and it was nearly a Lucic-on-Miller situation. He started scrambling like mad and eventually the puck ended up behind him, as nobody on Calgary could find it in the crease. A not-too-late goal drew Boston within one.
Unfortunately, Calgary’s Mikael Backlund managed to dance through just about everything on the ice and snipe home a shot through Rask’s five-hole. Complaints on the ice argued that one of his self-passes hit a glove on the Flames bench, but it was real close, and looked at slo-mo to have nicked the top of the wall and not a hand. The empty netter iced this game, 5-2.
No game notes, but worth making a point to recognize Bruce Cassidy’s willingness to draw on his newest forward in order to send a message: effort counts, and you’ll sit if you don’t show it.