by Bob Morello
Bruins head to All-Star break
On the road tonight (Thursday) against the bottom-feeding Atlantic Division rival, the Ottawa Senators, the Bruins will be looking to run their point streak to 18 games before the four-day break for the NHL All-Star Weekend. While they are still a bit behind the Boston point streak team record of 23 games (15-0-8-0), set during the 1940-41 season, the way the team has been playing, certainly makes it look doable. Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the now struggling (2-6-2 last 10 games), second place Metropolitan Division’s New Jersey Devils, has Boston continuing to play strong in comeback situations this season, twice on Tuesday coming back from being down a goal to tie the Devils, and eventually earn a two-point victory.
For Boston, the beat goes on. Despite the loss of key defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the blueliners managed to do their job on Tuesday with the return of Kevan Miller to the lineup, along with the dependable Adam McQuaid. This depth in the lineup up front and on defense, has paid off handsomely for the Bs who now trail the Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning by five points with two games in hand. The locals strong play shows in the standings where they lead the NHL with the fewest losses (10) in regulation play.
The consistency of the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has been amazing. During Tuesday’s victory over the Devils, Marchand posted his 21st goal, passing both Bergeron who notched his 20th, and along with Pastrnak, are now members of the 20-goal-club. The three are also at the top of the team scoring sheet with Marchand’s 50 points, Pastrnak’s 45, and Bergeron’s 40. Bergeron’s 20th goal of the season was his fifth straight, and his ninth career 20-goal season. Look out Selke Trophy; Bergeron is looking to win the coveted honor for the fifth time.
Tuesday was also a night when goaltender Tuukka Rask stood on his head to steal the victory from the Devils. His first period performance was worthy of the game’s first star, where he faced a barrage of 20 shots and stopped them all. Making 37 saves in the game, his current totals shine with a record of 18-8-0-4 in 30 starts, boasting a goals-against-average of 2.16, and a save percentage of .923, running his point streak to 17 games. Rask has not lost in regulation time since mid November (15-0-2).
On the downside, McAvoy’s loss, which is expected to be about two weeks, underwent what was medically termed ‘an ablation’ to resolve an abnormal heart rhythm. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy issued the following update: “My concern, and our concern as an organization is obviously his health going forward. Whatever time he needs to recover, his health is our number one priority.” McAvoy alerted the Bruins medical staff that he had felt heart palpitations following the November 26 contest versus Edmonton. The ultimate diagnosis was ‘supraventricular tachycardia’ (SVT), and was not considered a health danger. McAvoy was screened and cleared to play by the medical team led by Bruins internist Dr. David Finn, all while being monitored closely up until his surgery.
Boston returns to TD Garden ice Tuesday (1/30 at 7:00pm) to take on the Anaheim Ducks to start a three-game homestand that will include games with St. Louis Blues (Thursday, 2/1 at 7:00pm), and finishing up with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, 2/3 at 7:00pm).
Accolades to Bruins forward Brad Marchand who was named the National Hockey League’s third star of the week for the week ending January 21.