A favorable schedule awaited the Boston Bruins coming out of their COVID-19 break. Even with other important issues around them, they took care of business against the Buffalo Sabers, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils.
Boston’s three four-day victories, which ended with Tuesday’s 5-3 triumph over New Jersey, posed a few obstacles. The Bruins had to fall behind in overtime to top Buffalo and needed to erase an early 1-0 deficit in Detroit 24 hours later. They did not fall behind on Tuesday, but they needed a couple of bounces and a David Pastrnak-random-busting game-winner to ward off a shorthanded but annoying Devils bunch.
Still, this latest three-in-four stretch provided encouraging signs from the secondary scoring development. Curtis Lazar, Trent Frederic, Brandon Carlo and Oskar Steen – with his first career statement – all turned on the light against another Bruins killer in McKenzie Blackwood on a rather forgettable trip for the Devils netminder.
“I think earlier this year it’s not one we’re winning,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after seeing his team respond to three New Jersey equalizers. “Tonight was one where the secondary guys carried the offense.”
Thirteen different Bruins lit the lamp during their three-game stretch. Only two of their numbers came from their best offensive producers in Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The latter did not count a single marker during this stretch.
The Bruins will face tougher competition ahead, starting Thursday, welcoming the Minnesota Wild to Causeway St. Here’s what we learned after the Bs improved to 17-10-2 on the season.
A certain Pastrnak finally got his drought ended.
Even a talented goal scorer like Pastrnak is not immune to downturns. His latest drought came during Boston’s hectic stretch with COVID and other off-ice developments.
The talented Czech playmaker did not turn on the light under Boston’s shortened December issue. The Bruins did not fare badly given the circumstances, but could not quite establish enough momentum before the COVID break.
When the Bruins returned to near-full health, Cassidy chose to move up in his lineup and moved Pastrnak away from Bergeron and Marchand and onto another line of new looks with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. His decline continued through the first two periods of Tuesday’s tilt.
On a night full of crazy rejections, a determined Pastrnak finally served his first goal since November 30th. After winning a puck match along the boards, the 2014 pick in the first round drove hard to the net and converted on a rebound to put his team up. in front forever with 5:49 left.
“I think Pasta recognized an opportunity and took the puck to the net,” Cassidy said of Pastrnak’s ninth goal of the season. “He has gone a lot online without [the puck]… Maybe not so much with it lately, and he did [on the game-winner], and good for him. He was rewarded, hung out and made a high-end play. ”
The snake-bitten Pastrnak overcame hit posts, quality saves and cracked sticks to turn on the lamp when the Bruins needed it. However, he never lost sleep over the unfortunate breaks.
Given the circumstances, Pastrnak kept everything in perspective with regard to his heat.
“It’s been crazy with the stoppage and the COVID incident, and the guys coming in and out.” Pastrnak rated. “We’ve just been focused on things other than hockey. So for me, I’m just glad we’re back, especially in the new year. We’ve played some great hockey in the last three games. So hopefully we can continue, and that’s all that matters. ”
As the optimistic Pastrnak found his scoring touch, another young Bruin may have moved closer to getting a permanent place on the list.
Steen deserves an expanded look with the big club.
The Bruins held Military Appreciation Night at TD Garden on Tuesday. They probably would have also planned a pinball game if they had anticipated the crazy rejections that found the back of the net for both teams.
Steen was at the receiving end of one of those moments with the pinball wizard shortly after New Jersey’s first equalizer on a Nathan Bastian outburst. Using his baseball-like reflexes, Steen struck the bouncing puck at the top of Blackwood’s net for a unique first career marker early in the second period.
“Steen has played great,” Lazar said. “I told him, ‘the first one is always the hardest to get out of the way.’ So I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in the next match here. ”
The Bruins kept Steen in an under-six role when they called him from Providence. Even at just 5 feet-9 inches, Steen has not backed down from creating quality looks in the delicate scoring areas.
After completing Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) on the third line on Tuesday, Steen’s cunning skills and smooth skating suited him well with veterans Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno. Steen has not looked out of place when he was in Boston’s lineup. And his work ethic, despite his stature, provides yet another layer of competition within the organization.
“Well, the guys like Oskar. He’s quiet; he works hard; he plays the right way, goes hard on the net and finishes his checks,” Cassidy said. “Especially for a guy who’s not that big, he plays he a brave game. “
With more production, Steen could very well see an increased role in Boston. He became an unlikely offensive source this evening, as did the second half of the bottom six.
The fourth line was Boston’s best trio.
Boston’s top six hardly lacked scoring chances. Still, the Bruins had to lean on their secondary options again on Tuesday until Pastrnak’s green light.
This time they turned to the fourth line of Lazar, Frederic and Tomas Nosek. The trio set the tone on a strange night at TD Garden, beginning with Lazar shooting a transition past Blackwood for his third of the season at just two to three inches.
The breaks continued into the mid-20s as Frederic scored in his second game in a row after his bank shot from a hard angle found its way past Blackwood.
Honestly, the fourth line deserved their breaks with without a doubt their best play of the season. They created several quality looks at Blackwood with their aggressive control play, drawing a penalty on Damon Severson, leading to Boston’s lone forgettable power-play attempt, resulting in Severson’s outburst of the penalty box after the time had expired. In 9:39 of 5-5 time with the Frederic-Lazar-Nosek trio, the Bruins Devils surpassed 8-1 and held a 13-4 edge in shot attempts.
“We read well of each other,” Lazar said. “I thought we did a really good job of picking up the puck and turning those chances into something. It is clear that the goals were not the most beautiful, but it is always nice to be on the scoreboard. ”
The Bruins lit the scoreboard in various ways over the last three games. They hope the trend continues amid a tougher and busier schedule.
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