LOS ANGELES — It appears the Bruins got the message from a blunt Bruce Cassidy following Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Ducks on the other side of the Freeway.
In particular, the Bruins defense heard Cassidy’s honest, but brutal message from the night before loud and clear.
“Other than Charlie [McAvoy], these guys have played in the league, and they’re going to need to carry this team a little bit until we find our scoring and until these young guys get comfortable playing on the road,” Cassidy said about the margin of error in Anaheim. “It was a bit of an issue tonight, and guys are going to have to take ownership of that. We’ve got some leaders back there and I hope that they take it to heart, because we had to be better back there.”
Take it to heart, they did.
Unlike their loss to the Ducks where the B’s blueliners were largely the ones wearing the “dunce” hat with costly turnovers and sloppy all-around play, Boston’s D did a much better job in their own end last night.
Against the Kings, and without Torey Krug for the second time this year (upper body), the Bruins did a better job clearing bodies in front of Anton Khudobin and limited their turnovers in their own end of the ice. Khudobin made 27 stops and controlled his rebounds nicely. Whenever he did let up a rebound, the D was there to pounce on the loose puck and clear it out of danger.
From start to finish the Bruins defense and all-around effort improved significantly in their second game of a So. Cal back to back.
“It didn’t require any great individual effort,” Cassidy said about the defensive effort and Khudobin’s performance following the 2-1 win at the Staples Center.
“You’re always looking at your goaltender and obviously he’s in a position where we needed saves in key moments and I thought we got them, but we didn’t force him to make a lot of them. So, I think it was a great effort, no passengers and everyone did their part.”
At a time where the Bruins are struggling to score goals, they were able to get help offensively from the blue-line thanks to McAvoy and Chara.
The first of the blue-line pair came in the first period from McAvoy on his nifty backhander past Jonathan Quick as he found space in the slot and made the most of it with his second of the season at 16:06.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the second period following a Drew Doughty power play wrister in the slot at 4:43, Chara earned his second of the season towards the tail end of the B’s first opportunity with the man advantage. He did get a little help from his slap shot as it deflected off of Trevor Lewis as their power play attempt expired at 13:16.
The Bruins are glad to take it. And they’re glad that they could close the door in the third.
“I thought we played a much better and much more complete 60-minute game,” said McAvoy, who led all skaters in time on ice (27:53). “We went into the game, and I don’t want to say that we were desperate, but we really wanted to get a win – I felt like it’s been awhile. So, we put together a complete 60-minute effort and there were no passengers – everyone was on board – and we walked away with two points.”
“We had some good comebacks, we had some good third periods,” Chara added, “but you had that sense that we didn’t want to let that go. You know that feeling on the bench and that mentality of whatever it takes to get the win was pretty evident.”
In a year full of injuries and uncertainty, the Bruins earned a blue-collar, grind it out victory against a physical Kings squad. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.