What we learned: Bruins’ leaders step up in Tampa
It may not have been an emotional game like Thursday’s game against the Penguins, but the Bruins’ momentum carried over into Tampa as they began their post-All-Star break slate.
They had to shake off some cobwebs first as they only fired four shots on goal at the end of the first and had to chase the game for parts of the second period. That’s when the leaders stepped up as Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci all played a crucial part in the Bruins’ 4-3 victory over the Lightning.
Here is what we learned as the B’s matched their season-long three-game win streak and also got some help on Tuesday night with the Flyers, Senators and Maple Leafs all losing.
Leading by example
David Krejci beat the clock for his 12th goal of the season and a 2-1 Bruins lead with 0.6 seconds left in the second. pic.twitter.com/K4TFUsWWb3
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 1, 2017
At a time where the Bruins established the tempo following Alex Killorn’s first of two goals on the evening, they still needed something to go their way in the second period. That’s where Bergeron and Krejci came to the Bruins aid.
Trailing 1-0 late in the second, the Bruins’ assistant captains notched their respective tallies in the last 1:51 of the middle stanza. From Bergeron’s tip on a 4-on-4 to tie it to Krejci beating the buzzer with his snipe, the Bruins finally got the momentum swing they were looking for.
It didn’t end there. Killorn’s second of the night was countered by a Zdeno Chara bomb from the faceoff circle for the go-ahead goal at 7:51 of the third.
Frank Vatrano scored the Bruins’ lone power play goal on their lone shot with the man advantage giving them a needed goal as the B’s survived a late Lightning surge to tie things up following a goal by Brayden Point with 2:04 left in regulation.
Colin Miller saves the day
Another example of how things never come easy with the Bruins came in the first period. With their sloppy play in the opening 20 – mainly in their own end – the Bruins could have easily been trailing heading into the first intermission and they were inches from doing so.
If it weren’t for a last ditch effort by Colin Miller as a Jason Garrison shot from the point nearly trickled past Tuukka Rask after an initial save, the night may have gone differently for the Bruins. Instead, they survived a scare and went to the locker room luckily unscathed after the opening stanza.
Another fortunate break for Brad Marchand
For the second time in as many weeks, Brad Marchand appears to have gotten a break.
One week ago, Marchand was fined $10,000 for his aggressive trip on Niklas Kronwall. Exactly seven days later, the 28-year-old slew-footed Anton Stralman in similar fashion leaving many to believe, including your’s truly, that he wouldn’t be so fortunate this time around.
Well as an old adage says “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
According to SportsNet’s Elliotte Freidman, Marchand will not have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his actions on Stralman.
Hearing no discipline for Brad Marchand. Going towards puck, not seen as intentional like Kronwall play from last week.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 1, 2017
He’s been teetering on the edge over the last week. The last thing the Bruins need is for their leading scorer to cross that fine line as they continue to fight for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Script changes course as month closes
At the beginning of the month, the Bruins were looking for more scoring depth as their blue-line was starting to hit their stride. As January comes to a close, the tables have turned.
From Marchand and Bergeron catching fire to Frank Vatrano’s return following a foot injury at training camp, the Bruins are slowly, but surely, starting to see their goal total go up.
A big part of the increased goal scoring is their power play, which is now 4-for-their-last-14 following Vatrano’s third period tally. After starting the month near the bottom of the league in power play percentage, the Bruins now stand 17th on the man advantage converting at a success rate of 17.7 percent.
Their defense, meanwhile, has taken a little bit of a hit. As Brandon Carlo has hit the proverbial rookie wall and guys like Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid are trying to play beyond their capability, a top-four defenseman has to be a bigger priority for GM Don Sweeney before the March 1 trade deadline. Even with the increased scoring, Sweeney shouldn’t be afraid to add forward depth to their top two lines as well.