Despite injuries, Bruins continue to find ways to win
Thirteen games into the 2017-18 season and the Boston Bruins have yet to skate in a game with a completely healthy roster.
Entering Monday’s contest against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, the Bruins have had 50 man games lost to injury. From Patrice Bergeron’s early-season injury to the current back issue David Krejci is dealing with, the Bruins have lost some of their most important players at different points thus far.
But that hasn’t stopped them from winning games.
“Yeah, I thought we played a solid game overall and could have had more goals than we had tonight,” said Frank Vatrano, who scored his first goal of the season in the Bruins’ 5-3 win. “You know Tuukks [Tuukka Rask] made some big saves tonight, stops that penalty shot. I think from the goaltending, defense and forwards throughout the lineup, everyone did their jobs tonight.”
Their wins of late haven’t been pretty by any means. They’ve been boring, low scoring, grind ’em out kind of wins. But on Monday, all of that went right out the window.
For most of Monday’s contest, the Black and Gold looked like a whole new hockey club. A sloppy third period made the game much closer than it should have, but Tim Schaller’s empty-net goal secured the victory, giving the Bruins points in seven of their last eight contests.
Despite allowing the Wild back in the game, the Bruins put forth one of their best efforts of the young season and had what head coach Bruce Cassidy said was their best period (second) of the season. They were fast, they were smart, they were physical and their puck movement was a thing of beauty.
For the most part, everything was clicking for the Bruins.
“I think it was maybe our best period of the year; the second period. If you take away those first 20 seconds,” said Cassidy.
Without the likes of Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner and Brad Marchand against the Wild, the Bruins were without four of their top seven point scorers from a season ago.
With the injuries plaguing the Bruins, finding the right set of lines has been a daunting task for Cassidy and his coaching staff. But on Monday, there was no weak line as all four of the Bruins lines came to play.
No line was better than the trio of Jake DeBrusk, Jordan Szwarz and Frank Vatrano. DeBrusk scored his third goal of the year, Vatrano snapped a 25-game scoring drought and Szwarz picked up the first two assists of his National Hockey League career.
“He had a lot of pop in his step tonight, obviously he’s got a lot of pride, didn’t like being scratched from the lineup,” Cassidy said of Vatrano. “So I think the goal really helps him, he’s a goal scorer, so it’s been a while. I think when you get a break like that and shoot enough times, got him excited to play the rest of the game.”
The Bruins found themselves trailing 1-0 for the third time in four games. But even with a lineup full of inexperience, the Bruins bounced back and, once again, found a way to win.
For a young guy like Sean Kuraly, he and the rest of the young Bruins have gotten a lot of help during these tough times from the leaders in the dressing room.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good vets, a lot of leadership here,” said Kuraly. “We communicated very well and I think it’s been a good two-way street in terms of that and I think it shows out there.”
Things will continue to get difficult for the Bruins while some of their top six forwards heal from their respective injuries. But as long as they keep grinding it out and finding ways to win, they’ll be just fine.
“I just felt we had our legs, we had good jump tonight. We pushed back against the Capitals the other night, we pushed back against Columbus [last week]. So you’re starting to see that personality of our hockey club,” said Cassidy. “We’re not going to be an easy out, keep ourselves in games and work hard to get back in games. Some nights it’s going to work out, some nights it’s not.”
When it comes to wins, they don’t ask how they ask how many.