What we learned: Another intriguing start for Halak
They’ve battled numerous injuries in the first month of the 2018-19 campaign, but the Boston Bruins are finding ways to win, especially at TD Garden.
The Bruins didn’t have Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Urho Vaakaninen, Torey Krug and David Backes Thursday night. But they still managed a solid and engaging 3-0 shutout win over the Flyers and improved to 4-0 at home on the young season.
Here is what we learned as the Black and Gold await Claude Julien and the rest of the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night.
Time to make Jaroslav Halak the starter?
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) October 26, 2018
Death, taxes and Tuukka Rask hot takes. Those are three guarantees some Bruins fans live by.
Rask’s status as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, however, is more debatable than ever thanks to Jaroslav Halak, who posted his second shutout of the season Thursday night.
The difference between the two right now is simple. Rask is fighting the puck more often than not and has been out of position at certain times. Halak, while not spotless, is positioning himself to make timely saves when the Bruins need it. That was no different Thursday night as the journeyman posted his second shutout in October.
“I said before the season, I just want to help the guys whenever I get a chance,” Halak said following his 26-save outing against the Flyers. “And I’m glad coach has the confidence in me.”
That confidence from Bruce Cassidy’s coaching staff allowed Halak to split time with Rask, who bounced back in Ottawa with his best start of the season on Tuesday. Like last year with Anton Khudobin, Cassidy won’t be shy giving more starts to Halak whenever Rask struggles. But could he put Halak ahead of Rask in the pecking order?
“It could, absolutely. We do that at the start of the year for – we’ve done it here for years and just to work Tuukka’s [Rask] starts in because he’s been the number one. But if Jaro’s able to push him and if and eventually takes the job if and when that happens then we’ll look at that,” Cassidy said about that aforementioned possibility.
“We’re going to try to keep it as balanced as possible early on, and then like we said if one separates himself from the other like every other position here then we’ll allow that to evolve.”
Secondary scoring fills in for the top line
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) October 26, 2018
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak are rarely held off the scoresheet. Thursday marked just the third such occasion where each member of the talented trio finished with zero points. Joakim Nordstrom produced the only in the previous two games where the top line was shutout.
Things were different Thursday night. Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak still put things in motion with 17 shots attempts. The other 15 skaters came to the rescue with Zdeno Chara’s two tallies (on a one-timer and a 190-foot-empty netter) and Jake DeBrusk’s second-period power play tip-in leading the way.
Cassidy got better performances from David Krejci’s trio — with DeBrusk and Danton Heinen — along with the third and fourth lines in Ottawa Tuesday night. But he needed the other forwards and defensemen to carry the bulk of the scoring output at some point. He got that against the Flyers.
“You can’t rely on three guys and the power play every night,” said Cassidy, who saw his team win for the first time without a single point from his top line. “Even though we got two on the power play tonight, they were both from the second group, and Zee getting a big goal [in the second period].
“They’re coming around,” Cassidy added about the second line. “I think David has been really good in terms of driving that line. If it can trickle down now to the D and the forwards — the third and fourth line — now you’re really talking. Very important, and I think any team will tell you that. We’ve lived off Bergy’s line for a while and eventually those shots even out and we’ll need the other guys.”
Jeremy Lauzon had a solid debut
“We just want to make sure he can make the plays that are in front of him and hopefully tonight he has the ability and composure to do that,” Cassidy said about Lauzon pregame. “In your first game, you always get a little worried and don’t want to make mistakes so we’ll keep an eye on that.”
Lauzon met those expectations in his NHL debut.
The Val-d’Or, Quebec native didn’t have any awe-inspiring moments, but played sound defense and kept things simple in his first NHL game. His final stat line included two hits and one blocked shot in 11:25 of ice time — 1:47 of which came on the penalty kill.
“Yeah, we got the win and I just kept it simple. Played hard defensively and tried to put some shots on the net,” Lauzon said about Game No. 1. “I think, overall my game went well.”
Lauzon carried over a solid training camp performance into a strong start down in Providence with four points (one goal, three assists) in six games. He brought his promising play up I-95 in an eventful Causeway Street introduction.