What we learned: Bruins sweep road trip
Following their third straight loss to start the season, the Boston Bruins entered their recent two-game road trip hoping to build something. Well, they did just that as they completed the sweep in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Here are a few things we learned from Saturday’s entertaining matchup.
…Kevan Miller dropped the gloves at the right time
Leading up to the second period bout between Kevan Miller and Joe Vitale, the Bruins were doing everything but beating Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. They weren’t flat by any means leading up to the fight, but Miller really gave the Black and Gold an emotional lift after his spirited bout with Vitale.
After taking several haymakers to the face, Vitale left for the locker room to treat a facial injury and did not return.
Just 4:07 after Miller’s win via decision, the Bruins scored their first of three unanswered goals.
…Tuukka Rask bounces back
At certain times on Saturday, Tuukka Rask could’ve taken a nap. But for the most part, he was up to the task when the action came his way.
Sure, he did allow three goals on 23 shots and only finished with a .870 save percentage on the night. But he came up with some clutch saves in crucial times, especially in the second period where he stoned both Tobias Reider (highlight-reel save below) and Martin Hanzal in two-on-one situations. More importantly, Rask got his first victory of the season and that’s something he should be able to build on.
…Tyler Randell continues to earn his stripes
Two games, two shots and two goals. That is Tyler Randell’s stat line for his first action in the National Hockey League.
The scrappy Randell only saw 4:07 of ice time against the Coyotes, but he made the most of it with a display of speed and skill on his goal that tied the game at 1-1 at 8:42.
Since the preseason, Randell has given the Bruins an interesting dynamic. His presence on the fourth line — along with Zac Rinaldo and Joonas Kemppainen — is a breath of fresh air so far. Following a revolving door with the bottom six last year, and the third line being inconsistent through the first few games, Randell and his linemates are making the most of their opportunity during their first two games as a unit.
…Special teams are coming through in special ways
One of the few bright spots during the Bruins’ three-game losing streak was the power play’s performance. That carried over into the two-game road trip, and on Saturday they also got some help from their penalty kill.
Four of the Bruins’ five goals against the Coyotes came either on the power play or the penalty kill. The man advantage struck three times that included Patrice Bergeron’s pair of goals in the third period (at 9:10 and 18:54) to put the Black and Gold ahead for good. Earlier in the final stanza, Brad Marchand — returning to the lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion — tallied his first of the season on a shorthanded breakaway. Tommy Cross assisted on Marchand’s shorty for the first assist of his NHL career.
Although their penalty kill can still use some work — as seen from Reider’s power play tally shortly after Marchand’s goal — the Bruins success on the man advantage is something we’re not used to in the Claude Julien era. With the second best power play in the league to start, the punchlines of the B’s “powerless play” will take a rest for the time being.
…David Krejci is en Fuego
Following a season full of injuries, David Krejci wanted to stay healthy and produce. Through five games, he’s doing just that.
Krejci extended his point streak to five games with his assist on Randell’s tally. Later in the second, Krejci added his fourth of the season — on the power play — with a wicked one-timer from the left faceoff circle past Smith to put the Black and Gold ahead 2-1 at 15:19.
With nine points (four goals, five assists), Krejci is tied for first with Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg for the league lead. Can he sustain his health and his production throughout the season?
“To me, you got a healthy David Krejci, you got a different team,” Julien said about Krejci prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
So far, Krejci is proving just that.
…A grey area with goaltender interference
What consists of goaltender interference these days? That is something Julien might be pondering after losing his second coach’s challenge in as many weeks.
On Saturday, Julien challenged Shane Doan’s first period goal and 900th point of his NHL career after he thought Rask was interfered with. The replay shows that Rask was fighting off several bodies in front of him, including Vitale, but the original call was upheld.
Here is the official ruling from the NHL Situation Room blog.
Following last week’s call that went against Julien and company against the Canadiens where they waived off Loui Eriksson’s tally after Patrice Bergeron was shoved into Carey Price, there seems to be a grey area over goaltender interference these days.
…Saturday’s chippiness could carry over to next meeting
It won’t be long until these two teams renew acquaintances. Following Saturday’s chippiness, the two teams will meet again on October 27th in Boston. We’ll see if more fireworks will be on display at TD Garden a week from Tuesday.