What we learned: Young Bruins ignite red-light barrage
Three in four; four in six.
That would be the Black and Gold workweek, beginning with the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night at TD Garden. Twenty-four hours later in Buffalo. Thursday and Saturday back at TD Garden against the Jets and Red Wings.
Think young legs are needed? Maybe that’s why Bruce Cassidy benched Jake DeBrusk for the second half of Saturday’s overtime loss to the Rangers, while Anders Bjork was even farther exiled to Level 9.
DeBrusk with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 26 games played; just one goal in his last seven. Bjork with 10 points (four goals, six assists) on the season in 22 games; one goal since October 21 over 16 games.
For an offensively challenged Boston roster, leashes on the new kids will be longer than any employed by Claude Julien, but that doesn’t mean the doghouse goes vacant. The rookies need to produce.
Cassidy’s message: We can live with your rookie mistakes. But not while you’re standing around watching them evolve. You’re here to move your legs. Put it on display every shift.
Both benched 21-year-olds made it back into Monday’s lineup.
Along with Tuukka Rask, earning points in six straight games and playing in six of the last eight games with a 1.52 goals against average. Sergei Bobrovsky, 17-9-1, 2.27 GAA, at the other end.
One telling stat: The Bruins are 10-3-1 when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are in the lineup; 5-7-4 otherwise. Krejci scratched with an upper-body setback 15 minutes before the first drop of the puck; out for Tuesday night also.
Here’s what we learned as this one had it all with the kids leading the way in a solid 60-minute team effort to get the week off on the right skate in the 7-2 win.
Puck luck even after 20 minutes
Sean Kuraly ripped a wrister on Bobrovsky 14 minutes in and the rebound came right onto Tim Schaller’s stick. With a wide-open net, the Merrimack, NH, native clanged the right post.
Seconds later, Brad Marchand and Bergeron broke out 2-on-1 with McAvoy trailing. A Marchand pass to McAvoy went off the Columbus D and onto Bergeron’s stick. A pass back to Marchand resulted in his 14th goal at 14:48, and 13th point in his last nine games – the longest and most productive of his career. Zdeno Chara also assisting.
“We’ve talked about [getting off to a good start],” Cassidy said in his opening postgame comments. “Obviously we’d love to do that on the road as well but certainly in this building, we want to make it difficult for teams to come in and establish any sort of control or pace to the game.”
Eagle grounded twice; B’s 11-0-1 when leading after two
Former Boston College standout Cam Atkinson twice swooped in on Rask in the first five minutes. The first one dribbled off his stick; the second Rask stopped.
At 8:23 on the man-advantage, DeBrusk scooted left of Bobrovsky and shoveled a perfect pass across to David Backes who snapped it to twine for the two-goal lead; Heinen assisting.
The young B’s went back to work on the PP two minutes later. DeBrusk with a threading-needle pass from the right corner across to a solo McAvoy deep in the left dot to up the lead to 3-0 at 11:53; Heinen also assisting.
McAvoy wins first NHL bout in floodgate third
A minute into the third period, McAvoy took on Pierre-Luc Dubois for his baptism under fisticuff fire; advantage McAvoy in a spirited affair.
“I came from college hockey, so there was no fighting,” McAvoy said about his pugilistic passivity,”
Where did McAvoy’s ability to hold his own originate?
“My first day in Providence I worked with Tyler Randell for about 15 minutes after practice and he just kind of taught me how to protect myself,” McAvoy noted. “It’s a good guy to learn from.”
“He’s so strong and smart,” Cassidy said about the bout. “I imagine he’ll be able to handle himself, but so I think he’s 1-0 to start.”
Josh Anderson, the Jackets’ leading goal scorer, tallied No. 13 at 8:32 on the first Columbus shot of the period.
Heinen would get that back in alone on perfect Backes pass; McAvoy assisting at 12:30.
Schaller was denied by Bobrovsky 35 seconds later on a penalty shot.
Bjork got onto the score sheet at 15:44 when he dished a pass back to Torey Krug who sent a seeing-eye floater all the way to twine; Ryan Spooner assisting.
“When you’re young and you’ve been a healthy scratch,” Cassidy said about Bjork’s contribution, “you want to get in there and be a part of it.”
“I thought [Anders] played great tonight,” Heinen said. “He was using his wheels; he was flying and creating stuff, turning pucks over. So, I thought he played great. Your first-year pro is tough. I went through it, and I thought he bounced back real well tonight.”
Bergeron upped the lead to 6-1 on a slot shot at 17:26 with Marchand and David Pastrnak assisting.
DeBrusk capped off the Boston whitewashing at 18:50 with the assist to Spooner, while Seth Jones slipped the final goal by Rask with fourteen ticks left.
Three stars: Heinen, McAvoy and DeBrusk
The trio accounted for 3-5-8 and a plus-5, while Bjork and Grzelcyk had one point and a plus-3.
“It’s fun when everyone’s having success,” DeBrusk said, “and, you know, I wish Timmy [Schaller] would have scored on that penalty shot. It was, like you said, one of those nights and it was nice that we got, you know, no passengers tonight and everyone contributed.”
“Normally you’re hoping two of them will [have a good game],” Cassidy said about the young guns performance. “I shouldn’t say two of them – but in general, you want a couple to hopefully be better than average, the other two just, or the other two or three just be average, get some experience, understand what it takes and tonight we just happened to – it felt like all of them were really good. So, we enjoyed it and you see the results.
“Tomorrow, who knows, but that’s part of the responsibility of coaching those young guys and hopefully they do learn from it.”
At least for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.