The first and last-place teams in the National Hockey League collided at TD Garden on Saturday as the Boston Bruins welcomed the Detroit Red Wings for a matinee special.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bruins — despite trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes on a Darren Helm shorthanded tally — finally snapped their five-game skid against the hapless Red Wings.
The Bruins pressed Jonathan Bernier all game long and finally found the back of the net on Charlie McAvoy‘s wrist shot at 8:01 of the second period. McAvoy’s second of the season sparked a three-goal-in-four-and-a-half-minutes explosion in front of a sold-out Causeway St. faithful.
Patrice Bergeron followed McAvoy’s tally up with his 25th goal of the season – a shorthanded effort – and Charlie Coyle deflected McAvoy’s point shot past Bernier to give Boston a 3-1 lead at the second intermission.
David Pastrnak added an insurance tally with his league-leading 42nd of the season in the third period to secure the 4-1 victory.
“We wanted to make sure we got a win today. We had a couple of losses to them this year…we wanted to make sure we took care of business in the right manner,” Bruce Cassidy said after notching his 200th career win at the NHL level. “I think everyone was involved today so it was a good hockey game in that regard, we didn’t steal anything,”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins kept their Atlantic Division lead intact over the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.
Charlie Coyle led the secondary scoring charge
Matinee games oftentimes lead to slow starts for everyone on the ice. That wasn’t the case for Charlie Coyle as he remained relentless in his puck pursuit and his playmaking ability against the Red Wings.
On two occasions in the first period, Coyle came ever so close to redirecting shots off of Bernier and into the Detroit net but to no avail. Yet, he stayed with it and eventually notched his inevitable goal in the second period.
“When you touch the puck a lot and you’re controlling it winning battles sometimes it feels like the puck just finds you,” Coyle said afterward. “You’re feeling good about your game so there wasn’t really any negative thoughts going through its just stick with it and things open up and we capitalized which was good.”
Boston’s third line goes through Coyle. His work ethic resonates no matter who he skates with be it with Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen or anyone else. They’re a nightmare for opposing teams to match up against whenever Coyle sparks the secondary scoring output.
Coyle is heating up at the right time. The Bruins have some balance in the middle of the lineup, with Coyle, David Krejci (playing in his 900th career game on Saturday) and Jake DeBrusk leading the way in the secondary scoring department. They’ll need more of that as the postseason approaches.
Marchand cemented himself as one of the best wingers in the league playing with Patrice Bergeron for several seasons. The talented first-line forward notched 100 points for the first time in his career in 2018-19, and he may very well be on his way toward that milestone again especially with the league’s leading goal scorer at the opposite wing in David Pastrnak.
Marchand’s rare combination of skill, speed, balance and strength have helped set his linemates up in spectacular fashion. Just look at his third-period effort on Saturday, where Marchand was off to the races with Pastrnak in a 2-on-1 scenario.
Detroit’s defensemen never had a chance. Marchand slid the puck between Andreas Athanasiou’s legs and found Pastrnak waiting at the back door for another highlight-reel goal.
“Yeah it’s rarely shoot [now],” Marchand said on shifting his mindset from a goal-scorer to a passer. “Before Pastrnak that’s what I looked to do when I got inside the blue line; I was the shooter and it worked. But with Pastrnak and Bergeron on the same line they are the shooters and I’m the passer and I’m fine with that.”
He still has his share of goals with 23 on the season trailing only Pastrnak and Bergeron. Yet, no matter the situation, there’s never a dull moment when Marchand touches the ice on any given shift. Even Robbi Fabbri found that out first hand on Saturday, albeit in a different capacity.
Cassidy earns a milestone win
Krejci began the afternoon of milestones when he touched the ice for his first shift in his 900th career NHL game. The afternoon ended with another milestone as Cassidy earned his 200th NHL win behind the bench after the final buzzer
Cassidy has been a breath of fresh air since taking over for Claude Julien three years ago. His honest approach resonates throughout the locker room.
In just his second full season behind the bench, Cassidy took the Bruins to the pinnacle of the sport, the Stanley Cup Final, and came within a game of hoisting hockey’s ultimate prize.
That success has continued over to this season where Cassidy has his men sitting atop the NHL with 84 points.
“I guess now you’re starting to accumulate some, so it means you’re starting to establish some consistency in the league and your craft. That’s the positive part of it,” Cassidy said about the milestone. “[The] first go-around didn’t happen that way. I kind of learned a few things and it’s working out okay.”
Cassidy indeed has come a long way since starting his NHL head coaching career in Washington nearly two decades ago.
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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