Commentary on this game began with lots of talk out of the gate on how the Rangers overpowered the Bruins in the physicality department in Friday’s game. Boston started out with energy, notably with a big shoulder-to-shoulder hit by captain Patrice Bergeron on the B’s nemesis from Friday, Ryan Lindgren.
An unfortunate sequence saw Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev end up underneath Nick Ritchie - and, with Ritchie battling in front of the net, he lost his footing and landed with his full weight right on Georgiev’s head. Though not visibly shaken up, Georgiev had several cuts on his face and probably should have been yanked for concussion protocol. He wasn’t, though a few minutes later, Charlie Coyle scored on him and Rangers coach David Quinn made the call himself, replacing Georgiev with Igor Shesterkin.
What a goal from Charlie Coyle.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 28, 2021
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/gj0eE7ZdHw
What followed was more matinee hell, as first the roughing minors to Lindgren and Ritchie (the latter received a double, so Craig Smith went to the box as well) put play at 4v4, only to see a high stick by David Pastrnak and a crosscheck from Ryan Strome really messed with the flow of play. Fortunately, because each stage of play was relatively short - the Rangers had 30ish seconds of 4v3, followed by 12 seconds of 5v3, and then a bit of 5v4 - it was difficult for the Blueshirts to build any rhythm.
Fortunately, Boston continued controlling the game’s pace, and in the closing minutes of the frame, Trent Frederic tipped home a point shot from Clifton, giving the Bruins a two-goal lead going to the locker room.
Trent Frederic tips Connor Clifton's shot home for his second career goal.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 28, 2021
2-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/wTNqPLHfrc
Worth noting briefly that Georgiev returned to the game to start the second period, and looked no worse for wear other than a streak of blood down his face from his wound. I don’t really know why Quinn would opt to put him back in, regardless of concussion protocol “success” - back on the horse, I suppose?
The Rangers came out of the intermission fired up, no doubt expecting better results after a very physical first 20. Still, Boston was ready to react and definitively had more opportunities on the attack; their defense through the neutral zone was doing a great job of forcing the Rangers to the outside.
To my surprise, the refs swallowed their whistles and let these teams go at it seemingly uninterrupted, a welcome change from the first. Boston took the open space and leniency and over time really dominated the Rangers in terms of possession. Notably solid play from Urho Vaakanainen and the forward pair of Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka were encouraging signs, and the overall team defense gave Boston more and more chances. With a good screen in front of Georgiev, Charlie McAvoy executed a great give-and-go with David Pastrnak, dishing it to the winger at the point before turning and sliding into the left point shooting lane. Pasta gave him a casual pass that McAvoy blasted low to the short side on Georgiev, putting Boston’s lead a little more out of reach.
Charlie McAvoy blasts one home.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 28, 2021
3-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/z8avyI6Qjo
The rest of this period seemed to lull, as the Rangers started looking frustrated at themselves and unsure of how to escalate their own urgency. Near the end of the frame, Studnicka and Frederic both had great chances but couldn’t find the finish.
Slow start for both teams - or, was Boston just lulling the Rangers to sleep? Either way, it seemed to work. The first half of this period had even the announcers on NBC scraping the barrel for random topics and player facts.
The Rangers did seem to find some fight towards the middle of the frame, as they pushed the Bruins on their heels and spent less time chasing play. Colin Blackwell made his way into the high slot and fired a wrist shot over Tuukka’s blocker, getting the Rangers on the board.
After his shot, though, he collided with Greg McKegg, making his debut today for Boston. It looked liked Blackwell also shoved him a little, though he could’ve been reaching up to cheer for himself... anyways, McKegg took exception and slashed Blackwell from sitting on his ass while it looked like the latter taunted him, and both players ended up with a minor penalty. (Doubtful that Blackwell should’ve gotten one at all...)
Live view of Blackwell's goal, McKegg's penalty, and Blackwell's penalty...? pic.twitter.com/8bp1GiRs5h— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) February 28, 2021
4v4 yielded nothing, and with less than five minutes left, Boston’s neutral zone defense shut down most rush attempts by New York. Craig Smith took an unsportsmanlike penalty - looked like some roughing between whistles - and Nick Ritchie fought Brendan Lemieux with two seconds left on the clock to make this interesting.
- The new-look first D pair saw Jakub Zboril take his shifts with McAvoy, and - cliche, I know - he didn’t draw attention to himself, which for a young defenseman taking first-pair minutes, that’s a good thing. Vaakanainen was back to being sheltered on the third pair after some not-great outings last week.
- It’s been said before, but seeing the same teams over and over again are really building some animosity towards each other. Ryan Lindgren was certainly the target of several Bruins hits at the start, and Trent’s “relationship” with Brendan Lemieux is... blossoming.
- After what was a pretty scary sequence, Georgiev returning to the game - and playing well, on top of it - was a good sign that he wasn’t seriously hurt.
Up next - Washington Capitals at home on Wednesday!