By Bob Morello
Tuesday morning, Bruins fans got the shocking news that Boston’s top scorer David Pastrnak had undergone surgery to repair an injured thumb (tendon) on his left hand. The injury did not occur on the ice, but rather from a fall following a team-sponsor event, and Pastrnak be evaluated in two weeks. Red flags went up all over Bruins fandom – how will their team manage without the offensive power that Pastrnak was supplying during his 56 games played thus far this season? It’s not easy to lose a player in the lineup who, during those 56 games scored 66 points, including 31 goals.
Tuesday night comes the mood-changer, as the puck dropped on TD Garden ice, and the Chicago Blackhawks, arrived riding a seven-game win streak. This was a night where the Bs offense on the ice created a good match to the driving snow outside the building, and the locals emerged with a solid 6-3 win. The answer came in several forms, as five Bruins forwards stepped up and provided goals, led by Brad Marchand’s 22nd goal on a four-point night (1-3), aided by David Krejci’s two goals (#13 & 14) and one assist. The youngsters also chipped in as Danton Heinen posted his ninth goal on a three-point night, matched by Jake DeBrusk who put up his 15th goal and two assists, and Peter Cehlarik found the back of the Chicago net with his fourth goal of the season.
The night ended on a high note with the win, as Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy earned his 100th win with Boston, the team is now 5-0-3 in their last eight games, and Tuukka Rask, with 22 saves, ran his personal win streak to 10-0-2. With the input of the secondary scoring seeming to come to the surface, the team will head out on a five-game West Coast road trip that starts in Anaheim on Friday (10:00pm), as they open with the struggling Ducks who replaced their coach Randy Carlyle earlier this week. The Ducks are currently tied for last place in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Kings.
It’s on to Los Angeles to take on those same Kings on Saturday night (10:30pm), as L.A. will attempt to extract some revenge following their 5-4 overtime loss to the Bruins last Saturday on Garden ice. On Monday (10:00pm) the Bs will be hosted by the San Jose Sharks who at press time are tied for the top spot in the Western Conference with the Winnipeg Jets, and are also riding a six-game win streak, followed by a Tuesday (10:00pm) visit to Las Vegas to take on the Golden Knights on Wednesday (10:00pm). An end of the week stop in St. Louis, where the Bruins will face the Blues in a Saturday (4:00pm) matinee that will complete Boston’s five game trek.
The Bruins continue in the third spot in the Atlantic Division as they chase the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place, trailing the Leafs by a single point with the Toronto holding a game in hand. In the Eastern Conference standings Boston is tied for third spot with the New York Islanders, with both teams a single point behind Toronto. Finally, with the February 25 NHL trade deadline fast approaching, all eyes and ears will be on Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, who indicated that the Pastrnak injury doesn’t really change much in his thinking. “We were already looking and making call to see whether or not we could add to the group in the right situation,” is how Sweeney explained at Tuesday morning’s press conference. He did point out that the team did fare well this season when hit with injuries to key players as Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara. Summing it up with “I’ve been having calls for a month now at least, if not longer, in terms of throughout the year, you can imagine the jockeying going on everywhere. We’re going to have to continue to play really tight defensively, and our goaltending’s going to have to continue to be good.” Sounds simple…eh!