Everything seems to be clicking on all cylinders for the Black and Gold right now.
With the slumping Carolina Hurricanes in town, the Boston Bruins played a relentless 60 minutes and took care of business with a 5-1 victory for their eighth straight win. The B’s also extended their lead in the Eastern Conference to three points over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who fell to their in-state rival Philadelphia Flyers Saturday afternoon. Here are three takeaways from the victory…
First line en fuego
There’s no denying that the trio of Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic and David Krejci are playing their best hockey of the season. The three factored in four of the five Bruins’ goals on Saturday en route to an eight-point afternoon (Iginla two goals, Lucic a goal and two assists and Krejci three assists).
Lucic and Iginla extended their point streaks to four consecutive games with their first and second period goals, respectively. Krejci, Iginla and Lucic fired nine shots, while the two wingers (Lucic and Iginla) delivered seven hits.
When teams are performing as well as the Bruins, and when a top line gets hot, the bounces go with them. A fine example of this is Krejci’s first period assist to Lucic, where he got off a nifty pass to Lucic on the doorstep after losing his footing.
“Its funny, I was talking to [Krejci] after the game and he said he was going to shoot so it was kind of a lucky play to get that back to me,” Lucic said about Krejci’s assist. “But you got to be more lucky than good sometimes, and that’s what happened there.
“That’s how it goes sometimes. You could be working hard and playing well and things don’t really bounce your way, but other times, where things are clicking and the bounces go your way and opportunities happen like that chance on my first goal. But when you play the right way, you tend to create your own luck and what we have to keep doing is playing the right way.”
All four lines are contributing on the Bruins’ success that dates back to the middle of January. For their effort, the first line has combined for 47 points in the last 14 games.
If that’s not an example of being on fire, then I don’t know what is.
“It’s been a lot of fun all year,” Iginla said about playing with Krejci and Lucic. “But especially in the last 20 games or so where each line is finding ways on different nights to put a lot of pressure on the other team. We have a balanced attack all the way through.”
Bruins stick to their physical style
Once again, the Bruins were able to wear down their opposition with their physical brand of hockey. Throughout the course of Saturday’s matinee, they delivered crushing blows and by the end of it the Hurricanes looked gassed.
No hit was more impactful than Dougie Hamilton’s crushing blow on Jeff Skinner. Hamilton’s blow to the former Calder Trophy winner came shortly after Alex Semin put the Canes within one at 3:22 of the second, derailing any late Carolina push.
“It’s a hit you have to be careful with,” said Hamilton, who tallied 20:41 of ice time. “I was kind of looking for him and waiting for the middle, and luckily he did. I got good contact, so it was nice to have one of those, obviously.”
The B’s 27 hits on the afternoon is another example of them thriving on physicality, none obviously bigger than Hamilton’s hit. After that, the Bruins scored three unanswered goals – including two in 13 seconds from Chris Kelly (at 12:49) and Iginla (13:02) – to wrap up their 45th win of the 2013-14 campaign.
Peaking too early?
After Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Zdeno Chara made this remark:
“We’re finding ways to win, but I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet,” the Bruins’ captain said. “We can always find ways to improve. For sure there are areas that we need to improve, but we are finding a way to win hockey games right now, so that’s a big difference.”
Two days later, the Bruins executed flawlessly and they’ll ride that wave of momentum on Monday night when they face the Minnesota Wild for the first time this season.
As good as they are, they are always finding ways to improve. But Lucic is hoping that the B’s aren’t peaking too early.
“It’s a good feeling that we have right now. We’ve got to keep pushing and keep wanting more,” Lucic said.
“I hope we’re not peaking right now. We need to keep wanting more and we’ve done a good job of staying on course and getting focused with the task in hand.”
Claude Julien, on the other hand, might show where Lucic and the rest of the Black and Gold need to improve with tinks at practice and game film. And that can only be a good thing.
“Well if he thinks we’re peaking too soon I can show him a lot of areas where we can better. That’s not hard for me to find,” smiled the Bruins coach about Lucic’s comment. “We’re playing well, we’re playing hard and we’re doing a lot of good things here. We just have to stay the course here. I don’t think we’re doing things to peak too early, we’re utilizing our players and our bench as best as we can and giving guys some rest. We’re doing the best we can.”
See what Lucic, Iginla, Torey Krug and Chad Johnson had to say about Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes