In case you missed it, Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup and the Bruins are rolling.
Boston rattled off three impressive wins in a row against Montreal, Anaheim and Nashville. Slowly, but surely, they’re trending in the right direction. Bergeron’s triumphant return — in his first game since Nov. 16 — will only help steer that ship further.
The four-time Selke winner tallied four points — including career goal No. 300 — against the Predators in his first game back after missing the previous 16 contests.
“He is one of the best players in the league. You know, it shows a lot,” Brad Marchand said about his longtime partner in crime. “I mean, the fact that he is able to come back and just jump into the game and get four points against a team like Nashville who is one of top teams in the league. They play very fast. Probably one of the faster games we have had all year. It’s tough to jump in after five weeks and feel good. He is an incredible leader and player and he showed that again tonight.”
“There is just something about him,” Danton Heinen added about his new linemate. “He’s got that good energy and good leadership that everyone wants to follow. It felt good. It looked like he didn’t miss a beat. He’s obviously a special player, it is fun to play with him.”
Bergeron’s addition couldn’t come at a better time. The Bruins, who had high expectations entering the season in a tight Atlantic Division featuring the high-powered Maple Leafs and Lightning, are finding their groove. Their trio of victories this week and their improved injury situation has put them in a good spot heading toward 2019.
“I hate answering those because listen, we prepare to win every game. We expected to be competing with Toronto and Tampa for first place. We’re obviously not there,” Cassidy said pregame. “Part of that is obviously Tampa has probably separated themselves more than we’ve not kept up, if that makes any sense to you.”
Boston, now 20-12-4 (44 points) on the season, currently holds the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are inching closer to the Sabres as only one point separates the two teams from third in the Atlantic.
Cassidy’s squad is staying afloat amidst all the injuries and heavy reliance on AHL call-ups like Jeremy Lauzon, Colby Cave and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. That is quite the victory in and of itself.
“I think there’s a lot of positives considering we’ve had key players out, we’ve relied on other players to step up,” Cassidy added. “So good depth in the organization, that’s a credit to Donnie [Sweeney] and obviously guys doing a good job down in Providence, getting these guys ready to play, the guys we’ve used and the guys in the room that have had to take on extra minutes so I don’t know if that answers your question but you know, we’re pleased but we’re certainly not where we want to be either.”
A healthy Bruins squad provides one of the toughest outs for any team in the league, especially at home. Saturday’s 5-2 victory was living proof of this as the Bruins never trailed while thwarting two separate comeback attempts.
Cassidy’s fluid lineup allowed him to throw different looks at certain teams based on matchups. But the third-year bench boss would love to have more balance among his four lines.
Things looked a little different on Saturday. Heinen made the jump from the third line to skate alongside Marchand and Bergeron, while Pastrnak stayed with fellow Czech David Krejci on the second line that also featured Joakim Nordstrom.
And it worked.
“Well, listen, it’s a guy that you can throw out there any time and you know he’s going to get the job done,” Cassidy said after watching his team improve to 13-4-0 at home. “Is he going to score two goals every night? Of course not, but he’s going to play and play hard and play against the other teams’ best players and maybe force their team out of their rotation, as well.”
The Bruins may have more reinforcements soon. Jake DeBrusk could return as soon as Sunday in Carolina. Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller’s status’ are a little murkier, but Cassidy hopes his veteran defensemen return before the turn of the calendar year.
That can only bode well for Cassidy and company following Bergeron’s grand return on Causeway Street.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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