The Boston Bruins finished up their five-game western road swing Saturday afternoon with a meeting against the surging St. Louis Blues. They stumbled out of the gates and looked like a fatigued team in the final game of their road trip.
The Blues controlled the majority of play in the opening frame and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead courtesy of Alexander Steen’s seventh goal of the season. But the Bruins once again showed resiliency and bounced back to tie things up on Chris Wagner’s second period tally.
Yet, it wouldn’t be a true Bruins game this season without overtime, and, for that matter, a shootout. Boston ended up on the losing end this time around. Sammy Blais found the back of the net in the sixth and final round of the shootout to give St. Louis the 2-1 victory.
“We got nine out of 10 points, the guys had some fun together, bonded a little bit,” Bruce Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley postgame. “At the end of the day, I was really happy with how we played.”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins had their seven-game win streak snapped at the hands of the red-hot Blues, yet extended their point streak to 13.
Bruins stamp their statement on the five-game trip
The Bruins stood at a crossroads when the road trip kicked off last week. No one really knew how good this team was with the trade deadline approaching. It left many wondering if a GM Don Sweeney would pull off a big trade to help the team’s chances of contending for a title.
We found out a lot about this Bruins team that made a major statement over the course of five games. The statement is that they’re for real and are a serious Stanley Cup contender.
“I thought it was a great road trip. Points out of every game,” goaltender Tuukka Rask told reporters postgame. “I think we have to be extremely happy.”
The Bruins secured nine out of a possible ten points on the road against quality opponents. They currently sit in third place in the entire NHL and second in the Eastern Conference.
Boston showed that they can win in a variety of ways. They’re peaking at the right time entering the final quarter of the 2018-19 campaign.
Tuukka Rask is (still) good
All of Rask’s naysayers don’t have a case anymore. But really, they haven’t had one for quite a while.
The 31-year-old put forth a tremendous outing against the Blues and was the main reason Boston was able to mount a comeback. Rask stood tall and kept pace with Jordan Binnington at the other end.
“I think it’s always a contest between the goalies in tight games,” Rask said following his 28-save night. “It’s always low scoring games against him and they play very tight defense.”
Saturday’s contest was the latest notch in Rask’s slew of consecutive solid starts in net. The Finn has been nothing short of sensational over the last 15 games and has given the Bruins a chance to win with every start.
Cassidy mentioned a 60/40 split between Rask and Jaroslav Halak in terms of workload for the rest of the season. That is more than ideal for the Bruins. It will keep both veteran goaltenders fresh for the home stretch. A fully charged Rask come playoff time can only be a good thing for Cassidy and company.
The 27-year-old strutted out for warmups at Enterprise Center looking like a natural sporting the spoked B. His Boston debut wasn’t too shabby either.
Coyle came as advertised. He stayed strong in his puck pursuit and already appears to be a significant upgrade over the likes of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic. The newly-acquired centerman finished with a minus-one in 16:36 of ice time.
“Playing in a new system is a little different obviously but I had my linemates help me out and talking a lot which was huge,” Coyle said about his first game as a Bruin. “I adjusted decently but I’ll learn as we go here.”
And if you didn’t see it coming, Coyle added some theatrics and scored Boston’s lone shootout goal with a nifty move.
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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