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  • What we learned: Bruins ride special teams in victory over Blues

    James Garrison November 8, 2022

    Returning to their home comforts, the Boston Bruins got back to their winning ways Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.

    A perfect night on special teams led the way for the Bruins, going 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 2-for-2 on the power play. 

    “I thought we started off the first period really well,” head coach Jim Montgomery said following Boston’s 3-1 win. “We got into a little bit of penalty trouble, and it derailed us…We pushed back in the third, and I liked the way we took over the game.”

    After killing off all three of St. Louis’ power plays, the Bruins took advantage of their first chance with the man advantage. Jake DeBrusk put Boston ahead at 13:34 of the first, firing his shot from the slot past Jordan Binnington on a feed from David Pastrnak for his fifth goal of the year.

    The Blues opened up Boston’s defense after Braden Schenn tied the game on a Jordan Kyrou feed at 11:37 of the second frame. Former Bruin Torey Krug notched the secondary assist on Schenn’s third goal of the year.

    The opportunistic Bruins responded and went ahead for good at 12:45 of the third period. Patrice Bergeron capped off Boston’s perfect night on special teams with his power-play tally from his usual bumper position for his fifth goal of the season.

    “I think it’s always fitting that Bergeron comes through,” Montgomery said. “There’s not enough words that I can say about how much he means to culture and the team positivity. He’s just a player that gets the job done night in and night out.”

    St. Louis native Trent Frederic padded the lead just a few minutes later, making it 3-1 with 3:32 remaining. 

    Riding another strong performance from Linus Ullmark, the Bruins extended their season-opening winning streak at home to seven games. 

    Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 11th victory of the year.

    Perfect special teams led the way for Boston.

    Boston’s penalty kill was tested in the first period, having to kill off a trio of power play opportunities for St. Louis. In a season full of disappointments, the Blues’ ninth-ranked power play served as a bright spot throughout their six-game losing streak.

    The Bruins lightly contested St. Louis’ zone entry but cut passes and ragged the puck in the offensive and neutral zones while down a man. Montgomery’s crew limited the Blues to three shots on net in their three attempts with the man advantage.

    In his two years as an assistant coach with the Blues, Montgomery found success retooling St. Louis’ power play. With Montgomery now behind the Bruins’ bench, a league-best penalty kill possessed an even greater advantage.

    “We have a lot of confidence in our penalty kill,” Montgomery said. “I think our special teams won the game. Our power play was two-for-two. Our penalty kill was three-for-three, I believe. Great work by both [assistant] coaches: [Joe] Sacco and [John] Gruden.”

    After failing to produce a late equalizer while up a man against Toronto on Saturday, the Bruins received timely goals on the power play, beginning with DeBrusk’s first-period marker and ending with Bergeron’s go-ahead tally in the third.

    “We’ve liked our power-play the last couple of games,” Montgomery said. “The desperation and work to get second and third effort chances in the offensive [end] I think really paid off on both those goals.”

    The bottom six continues to rotate.

    Boston’s coaching staff continued to tweak their bottom six ahead of Monday’s contest. Craig Smith returned to the lineup, while A.J. Greer made the trip to the ninth-floor press box and Jakub Lauko headed back to Providence for his latest AHL assignment.

    Nick Foligno joined Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha on the third line, while Frederic skated with Smith and Tomas Nosek on the fourth line. With a plethora of options on the third and fourth lines, the Bruins’ bottom six has become somewhat of a rotating unit of six. 

    “I feel like that’s how it’s been,” Frederic said. “What he’s been doing so far seems like it’s working. We’re always trying to contribute when we have the chance.”

    Smith logged just 6:27 of ice time Monday night. The veteran winger has seen his role diminished over the last week with Greer’s solid string off solid performances and Foligno’s resurgence.

    Boston remains perfect on home ice.

    Amid one of the many surprises to start the year, the Bruins remain a perfect 7-0-0 at home.

    During a ‘home-heavy’ month of October, the Bruins’ only loss came on the road at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. 

    “That was the focus at the beginning of the year,” DeBrusk said. “We obviously want to be good here, and [it’s] just a matter of trying to get the first goal, trying to get the crowd into things, and just kind of roll over four lines.”

    With four of their next five games at the TD Garden, the Bruins will look to continue their dominance at home. Through seven home games, the Bruins have only trailed for 1:17. 

    “I think good teams do that,” Frederic said. “It’s fun playing at TD. I feel like we’ve always got a packed crowd; people seem like it’s a Saturday every night.”

    The Bruins aim to extend their perfect home record to 8-0 on Thursday when they welcome the Calgary Flames to Causeway St.

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